April 6, 2020
Read time : 5 min
Line graph depicting federal debt trends with current policies

Just as the numbers on your phone tick by as the day passes, the National Debt clock in New York ticks by as the national debt grows. The national debt is projected to reach $1 trillion each year over the next 10 years, but what exactly does this mean and where can you find this information? 

What are the Different Debt Clocks and What Do They Mean?

US National Debt Clock

The US National Debt Clock covers the outstanding debt owed by the federal government. Two-thirds of the clock shows the public debt by way of treasury bills, notes, and bonds - this covers individuals, businesses, and foreign governments. The other third of the debt is what the government owes to itself - this covers federal programs like Social Security. 


World Debt Clock

The World Debt Clocks help give perspective on how the U.S.'s debt compares to the rest of the world. To give a comparison, the U.S.'s national debt is more than that of China, Japan, and Germany combined. As of March 2020, the U.S.'s public debt ratio is at 69.04%, while its external debt to GDP ratio is at 97.80%.

Student Loan Debt Clock

The Student Loan Debt Clock gives insight into the current amount of federal and private loans that students have taken out to pay for college. Student debt in the U.S. is increasing by $2,854.88 every second. Loan amounts continue to rise as need-based grants are not growing as quickly as the average cost of attending college. 

Group of young adults working


Why Is This Important?

Bar graph showing the U.S.'s projected interest costs until 2049

Interests costs continue to rise, meaning that much of government spending may go towards paying it off. This means that areas of development such as education and infrastructure could receive less funding as more and more is allocated towards interest payments. In addition to this, higher interest rates create obstacles for private investments which affect economic growth. When the interest rate is high, it can be harder for businesses and individuals to receive funding and investments.

The national debt does not only affect the economy and its growth - it  can also have a large effect on individuals and their livelihoods. As investments become harder to gain, businesses increase the costs of goods and services to balance out debt service obligations. In addition to the possibility of paying more for goods and services, the average income for a family of four is projected to decrease by $16,000 over the next thirty years if debt continues to grow. 

In 2019, approximately 49 million Americans had student debt. Growing student debt, high-interest rates, and economic instability can create problems for students who are aiming to pay off their student debt. Low wages and job insecurity are likely negative outcomes of the increasing national debt. 

Want to know more about how the debt is affecting our fiscal future? Check out our graphs and see it for yourself!

What Can You Do?

The national debt continues to grow, and it is important to be informed and proactive. Up to Us is an organization that empowers young adults to be educated about fiscal policy through on-campus activities. Get involved by hosting an event, attending a program, and connecting with other like-minded individuals.