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Rein in occupational licensing, says White House

States should ensure that occupational licensing protects consumers without placing unnecessary restrictions on employment, innovation, or access, says the White House in a July 28 report.

The report, titled “Occupational Licensing: A Framework for Policymakers,” prepared by the Department of Treasury Office of Economic Policy, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Department of Labor, included critical remarks concerning the current regulatory structure, providing several recommendations for creating a more efficient system that imposes lower costs on consumers.

Easing barriers that unreasonably prevent military spouses, immigrants, and people with past criminal convictions from practicing in their fields is a worthwhile goal, the White House says.

The report notes that occupational licensing has “grown rapidly” over the last several decades, and outlines how state governments can rein it in.

“When designed and implemented carefully, licensing can benefit consumers through higher quality services and improved health and safety standards,” the report states, “However, to realize these benefits licensing requirements must closely match the qualifications needed to perform the job, a goal that is not always achieved or may not be maintained when licensing expands and jobs change.”

The report highlights several “best practice” recommendations, including:

  • Limiting licensing requirements to those that address legitimate public health and safety concerns to ease the burden of licensing on workers.
  • Applying the results of comprehensive cost-benefit assessments of licensing laws to reduce the number of unnecessary or overly-restrictive licenses.
  • Within groups of States, harmonizing regulatory requirements as much as possible, and, where appropriate, entering into inter-State compacts that recognize licenses from other States to increase the mobility of skilled workers.
  • Allowing practitioners to offer services to the full extent of their current competency, to ensure that all qualified workers are able to offer services.

Read the full report here.