the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its first-ever data on certification and licenses, providing the most comprehensive and reliable look to date at occupational licensing in the United States. In 2015, over 22 percent of U.S. workers held an occupational license at the State, Federal, or local level, while around 26 percent held a license or a certificate. While licensing and certification seek to ensure that workers have the necessary qualifications, especially for occupations impacting consumer safety and well-being, overly-broad application of licensing requirements can create costly and unnecessary barriers to entering a profession. Licensing can lead to higher wages for those able to obtain a license, but can also lead to inefficiency and unfairness, including reducing employment opportunities and depressing wages for excluded workers, reducing workers’ mobility across State lines, and increasing costs for consumers.
Here are some of the highlights from the data:
- Nearly one-quarter of U.S. workers require a license to do their jobs.
- About two-thirds of the growth in licensing over time stems from an increase in the number of professions that require a license.
- While licensing is more prevalent in high-income professions such as healthcare and law, it is common in many middle- and lower-income professions as well.
- Unlicensed workers earn less than licensed workers in the same occupation with similar demographics and educational attainment, and the wage gap is similar across high and low-wage occupations.
There’s more. Check out the entire White House post.