The expenditures of all units of government in the United States exceeded $18 billion in 1939. This amount represented per capita expenditures of approximately $137.59, as compared with $95.54 in 1929. The significance of this increase is further suggested by a comparison of public expenditures with national income. In recent years expenditures have equaled at least 26% of the national income, nearly double the figure of a decade ago.
The major growth in public expenditures has been at the federal level. In 1929 federal expenditures were $24.33 per capita and represented only 25.5% of aggregate governmental expenditures, while in 1939 the Federal Government spent $65 per capita and approximately 47.3% of the total. State and local governments combined expended an estimated $72.55 per capita in 1939, as compared with $71.21 in 1929. Together, these two levels of government spend on a per capita basis little more than a decade ago. When they are considered separately, however, noticeable trends appear.
Expenditures at the state level have shown an upward trend increasing, from $16 per capita in 1929 to $22 in 1937, excluding expenditures covered from federal monies. State expenditures have increased at approximately the same rate as aggregate public expenditures and for several years have represented about 17% of the total. On a basis that excludes expenditures covered front grants-in-aid, local expenditures for recent years have been at a lower level than in the period 1927 to 1932. Local expenditures amounted to $55.42 per capita in 1929 and $46 in 1937. The proportion of total expenditures accounted for by local governments decreased from 57.9 % in 1929 to 35.2% in 1937.Share