by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
An estimated 29 percent of workers across the nation are in occupations that require a license to operate from state governments, up from 20 percent in 2000. The licenses are typically justified on public safety grounds, but critics argue they often do more harm than good by creating an unfair burden on the workers.
President Obama is one of the critics. His proposed $13.2 billion budget for the Labor Department included $15 million to “help a consortia of states identify, explore and address areas where licensing requirements create barriers to labor market entry.”
The budget proposal notes that licenses often involve “unnecessary training and high fees” that create a “barrier to labor market entry or labor mobility.”
“It’s a good start,” said Dick Carpenter, research director for the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that represents Stigers and other people who challenge state licensing requirements.
Addressing the issue would “impact far more people than unions or raising the minimum wage,” Carpenter said, adding that the people who suffer the most are minorities and people at the low end of the income scale.