by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
Occupational licensure has been attacked by pro-market groups like the Institute for Justice and Cato, but also by left-leaning groups such as the Brookings Institution. Even the reliably statist Obama administration criticized occupational licensing laws for their negative impacts, specifically limiting worker mobility and lowering wages. In 2016, it released a white paper advocating reform of occupational licensing. The Trump administration is continuing this battle.
I’ve noticed the same welcome accord:
Fighting the many harms of occupational licensing to employment and consumers is an issue that unites thinkers across the political spectrum. For example, two of the most important recent studies on the issue came from the Institute for Justice and the Obama administration. Last year, the John Locke Foundation and the N.C. Justice Center both made similar cases for reforming occupational licensingbefore the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee.
So what’s holding back reform?
Only the power of special-interest lobbies and the unique stickiness of a public-choice problem such as licensing keep it from reform.
Those are steadily being overcome. As I’ve shown, the ice jam of occupational licensing is breaking. In the 40 years ending in 2015, there were only eight instances of de-licensing in the states. Since then, by my count, there have been eight more.
Here’s hoping that in 2018 North Carolina makes it nine.