Too much regulation hampers business growth

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Business leaders have long complained that too much government regulation hampers growth.

But a study released by the National Association of Manufacturers last week goes a step beyond that general criticism and assigns an actual dollar figure to money spent by American business to comply with just federal regulations.

It is a big number — $2 trillion a year.

Moreover, manufacturers in general seem to bear a larger share of that expense. The association’s economists estimate that manufacturing companies pay $19,564 per employee, per year — nearly twice what the average business pays.

For small manufacturing, the costs are even higher — an estimated $34,671 per employee, per year, according to the study. That’s because some of these compliance costs are fixed — an environmental permitting process, for example. A company with two dozen workers incurs about the fee and as one with 500, the study said.

The biggest cost areas were listed as labor and environmental, followed by tax compliance and workplace safety. Outside advisors are one of the big costs for businesses, including attorneys, accountants and consultants, who provide help with compliance everything from labor issues to permitting to environmental monitoring.

Interestingly, the study only goes as far as 2012, and does not include the expenses that are expected from some of the new regulatory initiatives such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s new ozone standards, which are expected to be very expensive.

Certainly, some regulation is necessary. Americans want safe workplaces and safe products and services. But it is important for the government and the public to recognize that there is a trade off…

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