WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government reported a budget deficit of $23.7 billion in November, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.

That shortfall in the second month of the 2001 fiscal year year was smaller than the $27 billion deficit reported for the same month last year.

November's performance was better than the $25 billion deficit the Congressional Budget Office and some private analysts expected.

In November, spending totaled $149.4 billion and revenues came to $125.7 billion.

In the first two months of the budget year, which began Oct. 1, the government reported a deficit of $35 billion with outlays totaling $295.8 billion and receipts coming to $260.8 billion.

Individual income tax payments in November totaled $60.5 billion, up from $57.5 billion in November 1999. Payments from corporate taxes came to $2 billion, up from $1.7 billion.

The biggest spending categories in November were: Social Security, $36.6 billion; Health and Human Services Department programs, $33.6 billion; interest on the public debt, $25.7 billion; and military spending, $23.3 billion.

For all of fiscal year 2000, which ended Sept. 30, the government, helped by a booming economy, posted a record $237 billion surplus.

It was the third consecutive year in surplus, which has not occurred since the late 1940s, and represented a dramatic turnaround from fiscal year 1992, when the government registered a record deficit of $290.4 billion.

The government's 2000 surplus surpassed the previous record $124.4 billion for fiscal year 1999 and came on top of a $69.2 billion surplus in fiscal year 1998. The 1998 surplus marked the first time the government had finished in the black since 1969. The last time the government reported three consecutive years of surpluses was in 1947-1949.

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