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Debating whether occupational licensing does more harm than good




Staff Sgt. Michell Caldwell, 28, works with an occupational therapist at the new high tech Center for the Intrepid rehab center for wounded veterans at Brooke Army Medical Center March 1, 2007 in San Antonio, Texas. That is just one position that requires a professional license
Staff Sgt. Michell Caldwell, 28, works with an occupational therapist at the new high tech Center for the Intrepid rehab center for wounded veterans at Brooke Army Medical Center March 1, 2007 in San Antonio, Texas. That is just one position that requires a professional license
Ben Sklar/Getty Images

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There’s little question that those who are doctors, nurses, lawyers, dentists, or work in similar professions should be licensed to practice their trades. But what about florists? Tree-trimmers? Funeral attendants? Teeth-whiteners?

This week, the White House released a report that the Department of the Treasury Office of Economic Policy, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Department of Labor prepared that suggests that occupational licensing for some professions may be doing more harm than good.

The report says that with nearly a third of the workforce subject to occupational licensing, regulations could be creating unnecessary costs and the requirements for getting a license often don’t match up with the skills the job requires. In addition, it suggests that certain social and economic groups, such as immigrants, convicted criminals, and military spouses, are hit particularly hard by occupational licensing regulations.

The report even says that 10 out of the 12 studies the authors reviewed showed that stricter licensing requirements did not lead to better quality service.

Do you agree with the White House’s report that occupational licensing is more harmful than helpful? Where do you think the line should be drawn between protecting consumers and facilitating job creation?

OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING: A FRAMEWORK FOR POLICYMAKERS

Guests:

Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform for the Reason Foundation

Ed Howard, senior counsel at the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego School of Law. He was also the chief consultant of the joint Assembly and Senate Committee that oversaw all of the state’s licensing boards