guild-ed age
Wisconsin Takes Aim at Occupational Licensing

In recent years, Republican governments in Midwestern states have taken the lead in cutting back on blue model bloat in areas like public employee unions and higher education. Now legislators in Wisconsin are looking to address another policy area where decades of bureaucratic decay has helped insiders at the expense of those trying to move up: Occupational licensing. The Associated Press reports:

A new council would be created to review the necessity of every occupational licensing requirement in Wisconsin under a bill being circulated for co-sponsors.

The measure unveiled Wednesday would require the submission of a report by the end of 2018 that recommends elimination of licenses and other changes rules and requirements. The Legislature in 2019 would then consider approving the recommendations.

There is a virtual consensus among economists that state-enforced training requirements for a variety of low to mid-skill jobs, from catering to hair-braiding to interior decorating, have grown excessive, exerting a major drag on economic growth and employment—especially for people who don’t have the time or money to take thousands of hours of costly courses to practice a basic trade that isn’t particularly dangerous and whose skills can easily be judged by consumers.

Licensing requirements for low-skilled work have exploded over the past decades for no other reason than that professional guilds have been able to capture state legislatures and used them to help entrench their market positions. Legislators in other states should follow Wisconsin in scrutinizing existing occupational licensing programs and assessing which ones actually serve the common good and which ones exist to protect narrow and well-connected interests.

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