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Regulatory Burdens

Latest NAM survey shows effect on manufacturers

The federal regulatory burden is now costing small manufacturers $50,000 per employee per year, according to the topline findings of a forthcoming National Association of Manufacturers study on the macroeconomic impact of the onslaught of federal regulations. The total cost of federal regulations, estimated at more than $3 trillion dollars, outpaced the economic output of the entire manufacturing sector.

“The unbalanced federal regulations make it challenging to grow manufacturing in America by siphoning resources away from job creation and our communities,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons in an October 25 press release. “The burden continues to grow year after year, undermining the bipartisan achievements from President Biden and Congress that have prioritized manufacturing—including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the CHIPS and Science Act. It is chilling investment, curtailing our ability to hire new workers and suppressing wage growth, especially for small and medium-sized manufacturers. It is time for the Biden administration to take action to reverse course.”

Additional Key Facts:

  • The total cost of federal regulations in 2022 is an estimated $3.079 trillion (in 2023 dollars), an amount equal to 12% of U.S. GDP and larger than the manufacturing sector’s entire economic output ($2.91 trillion). The total annual cost of complying with federal regulations has risen by $465 billion since 2012, after adjusting for inflation.

  • The annual cost burden for an average U.S. firm is $277,000, the equivalent of 19% of the average firm’s payroll expenses. A small manufacturer pays a burden of $50,100 per employee, meaning that a small firm with 20 employees bears around $1 million in annual compliance costs.

  • For the manufacturing sector, the cost of federal regulations is roughly $350 billion, which equals to 12% of the sector’s value added to GDP. This is 26% higher than the inflation-adjusted cost of $277 billion borne by manufacturers in 2012.

  • Surveyed manufacturers indicate that they could enhance their competitiveness if the costs of federal regulations were reduced; they would reallocate current compliance funds toward employee compensation and hiring, investment, research and development, sales and marketing, enhancing price competitiveness and improving return on investment.

  • The regulatory burden on the manufacturing sector is larger than the economies of 29 American states.

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