It's official, at least according to USA Today: The national debt is as big as the country's entire economy, and sure to surpass it soon. The federal government owes more than $15.23 trillion to creditors and government programs like Social Security, which is more than the latest estimate for the value of all goods and services produced by the US economy in one year: $15.17 trillion. That number is as of September, and the economy probably grew to $15.3 trillion by last month, USA Today notes.
But the national debt will likely surpass even that number this month, and projections show that the debt will likely increase at a quicker rate than the economy. The economy would need to grow at least 6% per year to keep up, USA Today notes. But some economists say the national debt should be measured without including money owed to government beneficiaries, which would bring it down to the slightly-more-reassuring amount of $10.5 trillion. Even that amount, however, is high compared to historic levels. (Read more US economy stories.)