License to Work 2.0: Past Time to End the Permission Slip Policy on Jobs

Greg R. Lawson Nov 20, 2017

In all too many cases occupational licensing is little more than a mandatory permission slip that is imposed by a “Big Brother” like government and does little to ensure real public safety. Many of these burdens make it difficult for lower-income Ohioans to move up the ladder of economic success by getting a job and getting it quickly.

Earlier this month the Institute for Justice (IJ) released their second edition of the groundbreaking License to Work report. Building off their previous work, IJ outlined once again just how the explosive growth of occupational licensing has continued from coast to coast, including here in the Buckeye State.

Echoing concerns raised by their first edition of License to Work and by The Buckeye Institute in our own Forbidden to Succeed report, this version of the IJ report shows that while Ohio continues to license fewer low- to moderate-income jobs than many other states, those it does license creak under greater burdens than well over half of the other states.

Consider that Ohio is the only state to license social- and human-service assistants while placing a particularly high burden on prospective auctioneers. Further, according to the IJ methodology, Ohio barbers lose 420 days to education and cosmetologists 350 days. By contrast, emergency medical technicians lose only 35 days.

This means it takes less time for someone who literally could have your life in their hands to meet the government requirements for work than it does for a person to whom you are merely entrusting your hair. This sort of ridiculousness is why we have spoken out so often on the need to lower the burdens on cosmetologists.

But we aren’t the only ones who recognize that these onerous requirements are making it harder for people to get jobs and start working. The Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institute, and to both the Obama White House and the Trump Administration have called for reducing these sorts of burdensome licensing requirements.

Ohioans should not have to get approval from the government in order to get a job and Ohio should adopt the least restrictive type of regulation that ensures public health and safety. And given the vast amount of information available to consumers on sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau, it is past time for the government to get out of the business of giving professionals a seal of approval to work.

As burdensome as these regulations are on Ohioans, the burdens increase significantly on the families of military personnel who regularly move from state to state and are forced to reapply for licenses each time. The good news is, on this front there has been progress. Ohio policymakers joined Buckeye’s fight to recognize out-of-state licenses for military spouses, which we raised in 2016 in our policy brief, Increasing Job Opportunities for Military Families.

Despite this success, much work remains to be done for Ohioans and it is well past time for Ohio to get serious about reducing the burden of occupational licensing. It is time for Big Brother to get out of the way so people can get the jobs they are trained for and start building a better future for themselves and their families.

Greg R. Lawson is the research fellow at The Buckeye Institute.