North Carolina features over 50 occupational licensing boards. The state licenses more occupations than most other states and is one of the more aggressive in licensing jobs for the poor or less educated.
At its core, an occupational license is a grant of permission from the government to an individual to enter the field of work he desires.
The supposed purpose for occupational licensing is to ensure safety and quality. In practice, its motivation is to protect current members of a profession from competition and thereby make them wealthier. Its costs are dispersed among consumers and would-be professionals blocked from the field.
Economists studying occupational licensing generally find it restricts the supply of labor and drives up the price of labor and services. They find similarity between licensure and medieval guilds.
Licensing has grown tremendously. In the 1950s, nearly one in 20 workers needed a government license; now that number is approaching one in three.
Research is mixed over whether licensing actually has a positive effect on safety or quality. States differ greatly over which occupations even need state licensure.
Without state licensure, who would ensure safety and quality? Private providers of reviews and certification, internet sites and consumer applications, social media, and competitors and market forces. The government would still enforce safety and quality through the court system.
This report recommends six ways to de-guild North Carolina’s economy:
Reduce the number of licensing boards and licensed job categories.
Reform and merge licensing boards.
Apply a principle of ‘least-cost state.’
Enact sunset provisions with periodic review for current licensing boards.
Enact sunrise provisions for any future licensing board.
We are North Carolina’s Most Trusted and Influential Source of Common Sense. The John Locke Foundation was created in 1990 as an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work “for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina.” The Foundation is named for John Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher whose writings inspired Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders.
The John Locke Foundation is a 501(c)(3) research institute and is funded solely from voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations.
Copyright 2017 John Locke Foundation. All Rights Reserved