Bureaucratic red tape knows no party loyalties.
It doesn’t matter if a state’s legislature is majority conservative or liberal. It doesn’t matter how a state leans in presidential elections. If a state hosts onerous licensure requirements, it's going to have fewer jobs.
At least, that’s the takeaway from a recent study by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a nonprofit whose stated goal is to litigate and educate “in the areas of property rights, the freedom to earn a living, voting rights, regulation, taxation, school choice, and religious freedom.”
WILL’s new report, titled Land of the Free? 50 state study on how professional licensing laws lead to fewer jobs, found that the states that had a higher number of occupational licensing regulations for ten specific professions also suffered from lower employment in those same professional fields.
“[T]his study measures the impact of the patchwork of licensing regulations and rules across all 50 states to determine their impact on employment,” the group explained in a statement.
Their study found that the ten states with the most burdensome licensing regulations were:
- New Jersey
As you can see, there are some blue states and there are some red states on that list. Though their state legislatures may differ in ideological makeup, what these states have in common is that licensure requirements depressed employment numbers, according to WILL.
In contrast, the ten states with the fewest occupational regulatory burdens are:
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
All 50 states and the District of Columbia were ranked according to WILL’s “Red Tape Index,” which measures the burden of occupational licensing regulations.
The study, which underwent a “double-blind review process by two university-based scholars,” estimated that employment in the ten identified professions would increase by roughly 4.5 percent if those occupational licensing regulations were brought down to match Hawaii, the state will the least licensing burden. The study also claimed that at least 23 states could see a five percent increase in the 10 specific professions if they reduced their licensing laws to match Hawaii.
“This new study provides critical evidence that when states enact burdensome occupational licensing laws, it serves to hurt employment,” said Research Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty Collin Roth. “Policymakers must now consider if the current protections that licensing provides are worth the price in lower employment.”
His colleague, Will Flanders, Ph.D., added elsewhere, “The findings of our study show that occupational licensing laws, or government permission slips to work, serve as a major barrier to entry for workers in America. This should serve as a clear call for reform.”