That’s one takeaway from the National Employment Law Project’s report “Fair Chance Licensing Reform: Opening Pathways for People with Records to Join Licensed Professions.”

Already North Carolina is among the more restrictive states in terms of licensing lower-income jobs. North Carolina is in the middle of the states in terms of overall licensing restrictions, enough so that matching the least restrictive states’ requirements would increase job growth by over 5 percent.

As I explained in my recent Spotlight report “Modernizing North Carolina’s Outdated Occupational Licensing Practices,”

By design, licensing blocks people from simply entering their chosen field of labor. Only those who cross all the hurdles to get a license can ply their trade.

Those hurdles can include licensing fees, school tuition and fees to obtain mandatory credentials or continuing education credits, sitting fees for qualifying exams, time spent gaining experience, time spent studying for classes and qualifying exams, opportunity costs of forgone work, and also satisfying licensing boards’ criminal background checks and “good moral character” requirements.

According to the report, North Carolina has 641 different disqualifications in state occupational licensing laws for having a criminal record. That’s more than in all but one other Southeastern state.

Number of disqualifications in state occupational licensing laws preventing someone with a criminal record from getting a license (Southeastern states)

Data source: National Employment Law Project

I cannot help but remind readers that North Carolina is bound by its own Constitution to respect everyone’s self-evident, inalienable right to “the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor.” We should be erring on the side of labor freedom in these studies.