April 17, 2012
An updated version of this infographic was published in April 2014.
The federal government spent $3.6 trillion in fiscal year 2011 (which ended on September 30, 2011). Mandatory spending totaled about $2.0 trillion, or 56 percent of all federal outlays. That category includes spending for entitlement programs and certain other payments to people, businesses, nonprofit institutions, and state and local governments. For the most part, those programs are governed by statutory rules that specify eligibility criteria and benefit amounts. The infographic below provides a closer look at spending on mandatory programs in 2011.