NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulatory Agency Boom

August 18, 2011

Under President Obama, while the economy is struggling to grow and create jobs, the federal regulatory business is booming, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

  • Regulatory agencies have seen their combined budgets grow a healthy 16 percent since 2008, topping $54 billion, according to the annual "Regulator's Budget," compiled by George Washington University and Washington University in St. Louis.
  • That's at a time when the overall economy grew a paltry 5 percent.
  • Meanwhile, employment at these agencies has climbed 13 percent since Obama took office to more than 281,000, while private-sector jobs shrank by 5.6 percent.
  • Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute, found that between March 2010 and March 2011 federal regulatory jobs climbed faster than either private jobs or overall government jobs.

Regulatory production is way up, too, if measured by the number of rules federal agencies churn out.

  • The Obama administration imposed 75 new major rules in its first 26 months, costing the private sector more than $40 billion, according to a Heritage Foundation study.
  • The number of pages in the Federal Register -- where all new rules must be published and which serves as proxy of regulatory activity -- jumped 18 percent in 2010.
  • This July, regulators imposed a total of 379 new rules that will cost more than $9.5 billion, according to an analysis by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

And much more is on the way.  The Federal Register notes that more than 4,200 regulations are in the pipeline, says IBD.

But what's good for regulators isn't necessarily good for the private sector, as compliance burdens impose ever-increasing costs on businesses.

  • By 2008, the cost of complying with federal rules and regulations already exceeded $1.75 trillion a year, according to a 2010 study issued by the Small Business Administration.
  • Worse, the SBA found that small companies, which account for most of America's new jobs, spend 36 percent more per employee to comply with these rules than larger firms.

Source: John Merline, "Regulation Business, Jobs Booming Under Obama," Investor's Business Daily, August 15, 2011.

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