Overview

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Federal regulations—rules that are authorized by Congress but written by regulatory agencies and that have the force of law—affect every aspect of our economy. By 2016, there were more than 1.08 million individual regulatory restrictions, which are instances of terms such as shall, must, may not, prohibited, and required, in the Code of Federal Regulations. This buildup of regulations is not benign. A recent study found that, if the number of regulatory restrictions had been held at the level observed in 1980, then by 2012 the US economy would have grown to be about 25 percent larger than it actually was. Other recent research suggests that the costs of regulations fall disproportionately on low-income households.

Federal regulations apply in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each state’s economy, however, includes a unique mix of industries, and different industries are affected by different federal regulations. This means that, even though federal regulations apply in every state, the impact of those regulations varies from state to state. The FRASE index measures the relative force of federal regulations on each state’s private sector by counting the individual regulatory restrictions targeting each industry and weighting them by each industry’s importance to a state.

In 2015, New Jersey experienced the 37th highest impact of federal regulations. With a current-basis score of 0.92 , the impact of federal regulations on New Jersey’s private sector was 8 percent less than the impact of federal regulations on the nation overall. A FRASE score of 1 would mean that federal regulations affect a state to precisely the same degree that they affect the nation as a whole. This information, as well as New Jersey’s constant-basis scores over time, can be found in table 1.1

Table 1: Historical FRASE Scores and Rankings for New Jersey
Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Rank 28 32 33 26 36 34 35 36 33 31 37
FRASE Score 0.97 0.96 0.96 1.01 0.94 0.93 0.92 0.91 0.92 0.95 0.92
FRASE Score (Constant Basis) 1.13 1.15 1.18 1.27 1.22 1.23 1.26 1.31 1.37 1.44 1.42
figure 1: Top Industries by Contribution to New Jersey FRASE Score
figure 1: Top Industries by Contribution to New Jersey FRASE Score

The industry that contributes the most to New Jersey’s FRASE score is Chemical Products Manufacturing. This industry makes up 3.5 percent of New Jersey’s private-sector economy. With 95,568 estimated relevant restrictions in 2015, regulations on Chemical Products Manufacturing account for 13.2 percent of New Jersey’s FRASE score. The top regulatory agencies for Chemical Products Manufacturing are shown in figure 2.

figure 2: Top Regulatory Agencies for Chemical Products Manufacturing
figure 2: Top Regulatory Agencies for Chemical Products Manufacturing

Regulatory agencies, however, can affect more than one industry and can therefore impact New Jersey’s private sector in multiple ways. Figure 3 shows the five agencies that contribute the most to New Jersey’s FRASE score through the regulations they produced. The single agency with the largest impact on New Jersey’s economy is the Environmental Protection Agency, which accounts for 26.6 percent of the total federal regulatory impact on New Jersey.

Figure 3: Top Regulatory Agencies by Contribution to New Jersey’s FRASE Score
Figure 3: Top Regulatory Agencies by Contribution to New Jersey’s FRASE Score

The FRASE index can help New Jersey’s citizens and policymakers consider the impact of federal regulations in their state and determine whether that impact is adequately represented in the current debate about regulation. See the Mercatus Center’s primer on comprehensive regulatory reform for possible improvements to our current regulatory system.


  1. The constant-basis FRASE score measures the impact of federal regulations on a state in a specific year relative to the United States as a whole in the year 1997. The current-basis FRASE score measures the impact of federal regulations on a state in a specific year relative to the United States as a whole in that same year.