Red Tapeworm 2014: Federal Register Pages Per Decade

This is Part 11 of a series taking a walk through some sections of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State (2014 Edition)

We’ve noted that the Federal Register stands at a near-record level, and that the number of final rules at year-end 2013 stood at an all-time high of 26,417.

Still another way of looking at Federal Register trends is by pages per decade, to eyeball the scope of the regulatory enterprise on larger time scales.  

As can be seen in the chart nearby, the total number of Federal Register pages published during the 1990s was 622,368, whereas the total number published during the 1980s was “just” 529,223.

(The busiest year in the 1980s was the 1980 peak of 73,258 pages, as shown in a tally that I maintain here.)

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, 730,176 pages ultimately appeared—a 17 percent increase over the 1990s and an average of 73,018 pages annually. I’m counting the year 2000 as part of the new millennium for the sake of convenience, but that’s technically incorrect.

If page counts persist in maintaining the heights we’ve seen here in the early 2000-teens, we can expect to see a considerable increase for the current decade. The last bar of the chart here projects the 80,310-annual average we’ve seen the past four years. We will end up with over 800,000 pages for the decade if trends continue.

In sum, 2000-09 averaged 73,000 annual pages; this decade’s average—80,000 pages yearly.

It is worth noting again that despite the limitations of Federal Register page counts, the higher overall number of pages compared with past decades—plus a stream of pages devoted to final rules averaging well over 20,000 annually in the past decade—quite credibly signifies higher levels of final rule costs and burdens.

Red Tapeworm 2014 Series:

  • Part 1: Guess Which Is the Largest Government on Earth?
  • Part 2: Tardy Bureaucrats Gone Wild
  • Part 3: Reckoning the Dollar Cost of Federal Regulation
  • Part 4: Regulations Catching Up to Government Spending?
  • Part 5: Regulations Cost More than Federal Income Taxes
  • Part 6: The Federal Government “Eats” 31 Percent Of The U.S. Economy
  • Part 7: U.S. Regulation Compared to the World’s Largest Economies
  • Part 8: The High Cost of Overcriminalization 
  • Part 9: Thousands of Federal Register Pages
  • Part 10: A Record Number of Federal Register Final Rule Pages