NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Increase In Regulators And Regulatory Costs

February 24, 1999

Federal regulatory spending grew 8.4 percent in real terms from 1997 to 1998, says a new report from the Center for the Study of American Business. The study includes both social and economic regulation.

Social rules are those that cover consumer health and safety, job safety, the environment and energy. Economic rules apply to the conduct of specific industries -- such as financial and banking regulations.

  • The federal government will spend $17.9 billion this year making sure the rest of the nation complies with Washington's rules and regulations.
  • Staffing at regulatory agencies will increase about 1 percent this year -- following a 3.2 percent increase in workers last year.
  • These agencies will have a projected combined workforce of 127,927.
  • Spending on social regulations will grow 0.1 percent this year, but staffing will increase 0.9 percent -- while economic rules will cost another 1.1 percent in real terms, and staffing will climb 1.3 percent.

Historically, spending to enforce regulations more than doubled between 1960 and 1970 -- and it more than doubled again between 1970 and 1980. But during the 1980, which embraced the Reagan presidency, total regulatory spending increased just 18 percent.

Spending to enforce social regulation jumped from $1.4 billion in 1960 to $8.8 billion in 1980 -- a 543 percent increase in real terms.

Source: Macroscope, "Boom-Time for Rules," Investor's Business Daily, February 24, 1999.


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