Tagfederal government

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases December 2020 unemployment data

On January 8, 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its unemployment data for December 2020. The unemployment rate for December was 6.7%, the same rate that was reported for November 2020. The year’s highest unemployment rate was recorded in April 2020 at 14.8%; the year’s lowest reported rate was 3.5% in both January and February 2020.

The average yearly unemployment rate for 2020 was 8.1%. This is the highest average yearly rate since 2012 when it also equaled 8.1%. The highest average yearly rate over the past decade (2010-2020) was 9.6% in 2010. The lowest average rate over the past decade was 3.7% in 2019.

The BLS began collecting monthly unemployment data in 1948. The bureau classifies people as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for a job in the past four weeks, and are available for work—or if they are waiting to be recalled to a job from which they were temporarily laid off. The BLS uses data from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the United States Census Bureau. The survey collects data each month from 60,000 households—approximately 110,000 individuals—selected from a sample of 800 geographic areas designed by the Census Bureau to represent each state and the District of Columbia.

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U.S. Small Business Administration relaunches Paycheck Protection Program

On Friday, January 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) would make another round of loans available to new and some existing borrowers on January 11. Congress allocated $284 billion to the program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which President Donald Trump (R) signed into law on December 27, 2020.

The PPP, which Congress first authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020, was created to provide forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the SBA, beginning January 11, the new loans will only be available to first-time borrowers working with community financial institutions, which include banks and credit unions that focus on low-income and underserved borrowers. On January 13, community financial institutions can distribute loans to qualified borrowers who received PPP money last year. The SBA said the program would open to all other qualified first or second-time borrowers shortly thereafter.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act included a $900 billion coronavirus relief package that authorized a second round of direct stimulus payments, $20 billion in funding for coronavirus testing, and $28 billion towards acquiring and distributing doses of the vaccine. It also extended some policies, such as a moratorium on evictions and federal unemployment assistance.

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Federal Register weekly update: Highest weekly page total of 2020

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From December 28 to December 31, the Federal Register grew by 3,154 pages for a year-to-date total of 87,352 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 72,564 pages and 68,082 pages, respectively. As of December 31, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 14,788 pages and the 2018 total by 19,270 pages. 

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

Last week’s Federal Register featured the following 470 documents:

  • 386 notices
  • one presidential document
  • 25 proposed rules
  • 58 final rules

One final rule concerning source classification under the Clean Air Act was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 issued 34 significant proposed rules, 74 significant final rules, and one significant notice.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register 

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Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2018



OIRA reviewed 90 significant rules in December

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed a total of 90 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies in December 2020. The agency approved five rules without changes and approved the intent of 82 rules while recommending changes to their content. Agencies withdrew two rules from the review process. One rule was subject to a statutory or judicial deadline.

OIRA reviewed 58 significant regulatory actions in December 2019, 31 significant regulatory actions in December 2018, and 30 significant regulatory actions in December 2017.

OIRA reviewed a total of 646 significant rules in 2020. The agency reviewed a total of 475 significant rules in 2019, 355 significant rules in 2018, and 237 significant rules in 2017.

As of January 4, 2021, OIRA’s website listed 118 regulatory actions under review.

OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.

Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA. To view this project, visit:  https://ballotpedia.org/Completed_OIRA_review_of_federal_administrative_agency_rules

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Federal Register weekly update: More than 3,000 final rules published so far in 2020

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The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From November 23 to November 27, the Federal Register grew by 1,824 pages for a year-to-date total of 76,418 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 65,906 pages and 62,240 pages, respectively. As of November 27, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 10,512 pages and the 2018 total by 14,178 pages. 

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

Last week’s Federal Register featured the following 516 documents:

• 406 notices

• two presidential documents

• 35 proposed rules

• 73 final rules

One proposed rule concerning critical habitat designation for threatened Caribbean corals was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 32 significant proposed rules, 65 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of November 27.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Additional reading:

  • Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017.
  • Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018.


Partisan control of U.S. Senate will come down to Georgia

Two of the 35 Senate races held in 2020 remain uncalled: the regular and special Senate elections in Georgia. Republicans have secured 50 seats in the next Senate, and Democrats have secured 48 (including two seats held by independents who caucus with Democrats). Control of the Senate will come down to Georgia.

Democrats would need to win both of Georgia’s Senate seats to split the chamber 50-50. Since the vice president casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate, splitting the chamber would give Democrats an effective majority in 2021. Republicans would need to win one of the Senate races to maintain their majority.

Georgia is one of two states (alongside Louisiana) that requires runoff elections if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in a general election. As vote totals currently stand, it is projected that both Senate elections in Georgia will go to runoffs. That would mean we wouldn’t know which party will control the Senate until the January 5 runoff elections.

Republican incumbents are running in both Georgia Senate races: David Perdue in the regular election and Kelly Loeffler in the special election. Perdue was first elected in 2014. Loeffler assumed office in January 2020; she was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) resigned.

Perdue faces Jon Ossoff (D), who challenged Karen Handel (R) in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in 2017. Raphael Warnock (D), senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, is challenging Loeffler.

Of the 33 Senate races called, Republicans won 20 and Democrats 13. Democrats have a net gain of one seat, as they flipped two (in Colorado and Arizona) and Republicans flipped one (in Alabama).

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Federal Register tops 70,000 pages for 2020

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. This journal is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From Nov. 2 to Nov. 6, the Federal Register grew by 2,104 pages for a year-to-date total of 71,222 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 60,882 pages and 56,254 pages; respectively. As of Nov. 6, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 10,340 pages and the 2018 total by 14,968 pages. 

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 608 documents:

• 469 notices
• 15 presidential documents
• 54 proposed rules
• 70 final rules

No proposed or final rules were deemed significant under Executive Order 12866 — defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules.

The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 27 significant proposed rules, 63 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of Nov. 2.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. This project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017.

Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018.



Office of Personnel Management implements Trump administration order regarding poor-performing federal employees

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The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on Friday issued final rules that revise federal agency methods for addressing poor-performing employees in the civil service. The rules implement President Donald Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13839, which aims to streamline the discipline and dismissal processes for poor-performing federal employees.

The regulations implement the following changes to agency management practices:

  • Reduce the time for employees to improve their performance, allowing agencies to more quickly initiate disciplinary actions against employees deemed poor-performing. 
  • Reduce the time period for employees to respond to allegations of poor performance.
  • Reiterate that agencies are not obligated to help employees improve. 
  • Prohibit agencies from entering into settlement agreements that modify an employee’s personnel record. 
  • Mandate that agencies remind supervisors of expiring employee probationary periods. 
  • Establish procedures for agencies to discipline supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers.

President Trump issued three executive orders on May 25, 2018, aimed at improving efficiency and accountability within the federal civil service. E.O. 13839, titled “Promoting Accountability and Streamlining Removal Procedures Consistent with Merit System Principles,” seeks to advance agency supervisors’ ability to support accountability within the federal civil service while protecting the procedural rights of federal employees. The order proposed several principles, management tactics, and reporting procedures for agency supervisors to incorporate in order to address issues of employee accountability. OPM’s final regulations aim to fully implement the order.

Supporters of E.O. 13839 have claimed that the order will improve the federal civil service by allowing agency supervisors to more efficiently address poor performance and misconduct in the workforce. Opponents of the order have argued that the management changes are unnecessary and will fail to bring about the stated goal of improved employee performance.

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Federal Register weekly update: 2020 page total tops 60,000 pages

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From September 21 to September 25, the Federal Register grew by 1,510 pages for a year-to-date total of 60,682 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 51,364 pages and 49,264 pages, respectively. As of September 25, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 9,318 pages and the 2018 total by 11,418 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 550 documents:

• 416 notices
• 16 presidential documents
• 49 proposed rules
• 69 final rules

No proposed or final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 24 significant proposed rules, 54 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of September 25.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register

Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2018



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