Symposium on Occupational Licensing

By Jason Sorens | June 28, 2021

a skilled worker

As we try to get people back to work after the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to consider the role of occupational licensing rules. These rules require workers to obtain education and/or pass examinations and pay fees in order to be permitted to practice a trade. Sometimes they outright prohibit workers below a certain age or with a criminal conviction from practicing. As a result, they can be barriers to employment and opportunity, especially when they are so restrictive as to create a producer cartel harmful to consumers - which makes licensing an ethical issue too.

Recently, I participated in a symposium on how to reform occupational licensing in Utah. My contribution is on "sunrise review" for proposed occupational licenses. The whole thing is worth reading. This is an issue New Hampshire deals with too, and sunrise review has been part of proposals the legislature has floated in recent years to deal with the problem.

During the pandemic, many occupational licensing rules, such as bans on interstate telemedicine, were relaxed, to the great benefit of consumers and practitioners alike. Perhaps we should consider making some of these changes permanent and freeing up the guilds that control certain occupations and professions in our state.