Per-person government costs on the decline

It took the average American 167 working days this year to support the operations of government at all levels in the United States, according to the annual "Cost of Government Day" report released by Americans for Tax Reform.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, argued, however, that the day still comes too late in the year.

"It's disgraceful that the cost of government eats up every penny Americans earn in the first 167 days of the year. It's just one more indication of how bloated this government is. Fortunately things are getting better," Armey said at a news conference held by Americans for Tax Reform, a group that advocates tax and spending cuts.

Americans for Tax Reform determines the Cost of Government Day by estimating the date, counting from January 1, on which the average American worker has earned enough in gross income to pay off federal, state and local government-imposed costs, including total spending and cost of regulations.

This year Cost of Government Day falls on June 16, 167 days into the year 2000 and down 6 days from last year. There has been a steady decline in the number of days it takes the average American to support government operations across the country for the past nine years. In 1992, Cost of Government Day fell on July 10.

"The bad news is that the average American has to work 167 days to pay for his or her share of the government. The good news is that over the last nine years, the cost of government has steadily decreased," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Of the 167 days, taxpayers spent 29.3 days paying for Social Security and Medicare costs and 37.9 days picking up the tab for federal regulations. The bulk of time-59.1 days-went toward paying off state and local spending and regulations.

The total cost of federal regulations is estimated to be about $880 billion in 2000, roughly $3,140 per person.

A copy of the study is available on ATR's Web site at

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.