This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

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Unemployment is back under 6 percent, and it’s looking more and more like the economy is reverting back to trend. We’re not there yet, but the trajectory is good. The good news is that a lot of planned stimulus and infrastructure spending is now clearly unnecessary. The bad news is that Congress will likely spend the money anyway. President Biden’s proposed $6 trillion budget will not become law, but it will serve as a starting point. The 2021 Federal Register also topped 30,000 pages on Friday. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from water testing to authenticating calls.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 54 final regulations last week, after 62 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 7 minutes.
  • With 1,314 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,099 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,149 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 32 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 36 the previous week.
  • With 904 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,132 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 297 notices last week, after 467 notices the previous week.
  • With 9,318 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,976 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 956 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,373 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 284 pages.
  • With 30,065 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 70,908 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020 and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 17 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020, with none in the last week. This is on pace for 40 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 257 new rules affect small businesses. Five are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.