The federal government posted a $42.6 billion deficit in January, the smallest monthly deficit since April and the 16th consecutive monthly deficit, as outlays totaled $247.9 billion and receipts totaled $205.2 billion.
Economists had expected a $50 billion budget deficit for the month, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.
The deficit was the second largest for the month of January, following only January 2009.
For the fiscal year 2010 through January, the federal government had a record $430.7 billion deficit, about $35 billion more than through the same period last year.
Obama administration officials expect that the deficit in fiscal 2010 will be 10% higher than it was in the previous fiscal year.