12/10/2014 02:03 EST | Updated 02/09/2015 05:59 EST

Federal budget deficit drops to $56.8 billion in November, helped by calendar shifts

WASHINGTON - The federal government's deficit for the first two months of the new budget year is down 21 per cent from the same period a year ago, although much of that improvement is due to quirks in the calendar.

The Treasury Department says the deficit for November totalled $56.8 billion, a drop of 58 per cent from last year's November deficit of $135.2 billion. For the first two months of the budget year that began Oct. 1, the deficit totals $178.5 billion, an improvement of 21 per cent from the same period last year.

However, the calendar heavily influenced the changes by shifting payment dates for various government benefits. Adjusting for those changes, Treasury says the deficit this year is still 6.8 per cent lower than last year.