What Is the Function of the U.S. Federal Debt Clock?


Quick Answer

Both online and physical versions of the U.S. federal debt clock function to draw attention to the continual increase in the United States' level of debt. The online U.S. National Debt Clock serves to publish a snapshot of continuously updated information about the United States' financial condition, according to USDebtClock.org. The National Debt Clock in New York City first appeared on Feb. 20, 1989, according to Durst Organization.

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Full Answer

As of July 28, 2015, the U.S. national debt is $18.3 trillion, according to USDebtClock.org. When the National Debt Clock was first unveiled as a billboard in New York City, the debt was $3 trillion, according to Durst Organization. Both the online and physical debt clocks include the family share of the national debt and total national debt.

The debt clock billboard displays only the total national debt and each American family's share thereof, a metric that Seymour Durst once included in holiday cards he wrote to Congressmen, according to the New York Times. Since 2004, the debt clock billboard is located at West 44th Street and Avenue of the Americas in New York City, according to Durst Organization. The billboard was turned off from 2000 to 2002 when United States debt was decreasing, and a new digit was added to the clock in 2008 when the debt exceeded $10 trillion for the first time.

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