Tag: Occupational Licensing

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From police officers to protesters, everyone seems to agree that a better trained, more professional police force can improve officers’ decision making and build the community’s faith in law enforcement. But Ohio law requires fewer hours of training to become a police officer than the person who cuts your hair: a minimum of 737 hours […]

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I am very pleased to announce the launch of a new podcast: The Urbane Cowboys,  featuring Josiah Neeley of R Street Institute and Doug McCullough of Lone Star Policy Institute. Episode 1 features special guest, Shoshana Weissmann of R Street, and covers the topics of Occupational Licensing, Urban Politics, the Brett Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination, and […]

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Occupational Licensing Is a Whole Quilt of Crazy


Here’s a bit of trivia: New Hampshire’s tallest building was erected by a general contractor unlicensed by the state. Before you decide to avoid forever Manchester’s 20-story City Hall Plaza, you should know no building in the state, including every house, was built by a state-licensed general contractor — because New Hampshire doesn’t license general contractors. I’ll be focusing on New Hampshire here, but the crazy quilt of occupational licenses smothers opportunity in every state.

The state doesn’t license carpenters, auto mechanics, welders or asphalt layers either. Yet your home does not fall apart, commercial buildings don’t tumble down, roads don’t dissolve in the rain.

Want to Reduce Crime? Allow Non-violent Ex-cons to Get a Job.


shutterstock_145411027Want to be a florist in Louisiana? You need government approval. In four other states, you need a license before you can be an interior decorator. Tennessee requires 70 days  training, a $140 fee, and two exams before allowing anyone to be a shampooer. I’m unclear how more than two months of class work is needed to lather/rinse/repeat, but government knows best.

All 50 states require millions of would-be workers to go through government-sanctioned professional boards before they can ply their trade. Now this makes sense for a CPA or a lawyer, but do bureaucrats really need to regulate upholsterers, packagers, and gas pumpers? Stephen Slivinski, an economist and researcher at Arizona State University, conducted a first-of-its-kind study on how these boards burden one group more than others. And when they make this group suffer, crime surges. I wrote about the study in this weekend’s Arizona Republic:

Employers often frown on anyone with even a non-violent criminal record, despite having the skills and education required for the job. Where this tendency is most apparent is the byzantine system of professional licenses and certifications required by many states…

Tennessee Is Criminalizing Shampooing


shutterstock_281446382In a new column over at Forbes, Nick Sibilla from the Institute for Justice (IJ) details the case of Tammy Pritchard, whose attempt to earn a better living as a part-time shampooer in a friend’s beauty salon in Tennessee has been stymied by the state’s restrictive occupational licensing laws.

“Unfortunately for Tammy, unlicensed shampooing is a crime, punishable by up to six months in jail. The Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners can also impose civil penalties as high as $1,000 for those who dare to lather, rinse and repeat without a license…

“Before she can legally wash hair at a salon, Tammy must finish 300 hours of training on “the practice and theory of shampooing.” In a course more fitting for Greendale Community College, prospective shampooers learn about the “chemistry and composition of shampoos and conditioners,” “shampooing and rinsing foreign material from hair,” and “shop management,” which covers remedial skills like “answering phone, scheduling appointments, ordering supplies.” After completing the class, shampooers then have to pass two exams, one on “theory,” the other practical, to obtain their license.”

Adventures in Occupational Licensing: Marco Rubio Edition


RTX20WCL_rubio-e1451922832963So Marco Rubio helped his brother-in-law, who had been convicted for drug trafficking, get a real estate license. Call it another episode in “Adventures in Occupational Licensing.” From Vox:

As part of that close relationship, it seems that Rubio helped out Cicilia with a letter to the Florida Real Estate Commission when Cicilia was applying for a license in 2002. You see, in Florida a convicted felon who wants to sell real estate needs to get his application approved by the state’s seven-member Real Estate Commission. They are appointed by the governor, with a budget controlled by the state legislature, and they decide on a “case-by-case basis” with no particular objective standard in mind which ex-cons can and cannot sell real estate. Under the circumstances, the recommendation from a powerful state legislator likely carried a lot of weight, and Cicilia got his license.

When recommending Cicilia to the board, Rubio neglected to mention that the applicant in question is married to his sister, a decision Rubio spokesperson Todd Harris defended to the Post on the curious grounds that Rubio “believed Orlando should be judged on his own merits and felt it would be highly inappropriate, and could be perceived as exerting undue pressure, if his letter stated that Orlando was a relative.”

This is Perhaps the Best Part of the White House Report on Job Licenses


072917white-hoouse1A welcome summer surprise from Team Obama (via the FT):

From auctioneers and barbers to scrap metal recyclers and travel guides, the number of jobs requiring a licence has been expanding rapidly across US states. Now the White House is warning that the occupational licensing requirements imposed by individual states are getting so burdensome that they are holding back the overall US economy, by lifting costs to consumers and erecting barriers to workforce mobility. In a report, the administration called on states to scrap unnecessary regulatory requirements and to harmonise more requirements across state lines, as it rolled out suggestions for better practice in the area. The White House Council of Economic Advisers, Treasury and Department of Labor report cited estimates suggesting licensing restrictions cost millions of jobs nationwide and have boosted consumer costs by more than $100bn. America’s obsession with occupational licences sits awkwardly with the country’s reputation for free market capitalism, but a quarter of US workers require a licence to do their jobs.

This is an issue many center-right reformers, including myself, have been highlighting for some time. More than once I have pointed to an Institute of Justice analysis of 100 low- and moderate-income occupations that found 66 jobs with greater average licensure burdens than EMTs, including interior designers, barbers, cosmetologists, and manicurists. The White House suggests several reforms including a simpler application process, easing exclusions for workers with criminal records, “sunrise and sunset” cost-benefit reviews, and public membership on licensing boards, but this, I think, is especially important.