Occupational Licensing: A Framework for Policymakers

Source: Department of Treasury, Council of Economic Advisers, and the Department of Labor, July 2015

From the summary:
“Occupational licensing” may sound like a dry subject, but its rise has been one of the more important economic trends of the past few decades. Today, one-quarter of U.S. workers must have a State license to do their jobs, a five-fold increase since the 1950s. Including Federal and local licenses, an even higher share of the workforce now has a license. Smart regulation of workers can benefit consumers through higher-quality services and improved health and safety standards. Yet too often, policymakers do not carefully weigh the costs and benefits when licensing a particular profession, resulting in a patchwork of different licensing decisions and requirements. Estimates suggest that while 1,100 professions are regulated in at least one State, fewer than 60 are regulated in all 50 States. A report from the Department of Treasury, Council of Economic Advisers, and the Department of Labor released today explores the rise in occupational licensing and its important consequences for our economy.