Economic Opportunity

White House Announces Steps to Reduce Unnecessary Occupation Licenses

June 22, 2016

On Friday, the White House announced $7.5 million in federal funding “to design and implement approaches that enhance the portability of licenses across states and reduce overly burdensome licensing restriction in general.”

Over the past year, the Obama administration has put increasing attention on occupational licensing reform. A July 2015 White House report looked at the growth of occupational licensure and provided states with reform recommendations. Likewise, in April of this year, President Obama directed federal agencies to reduce licensing barriers for those with criminal records.

The administration notes that occupational licensure can “create higher costs for consumers and prohibit skilled American workers like florists and hairdressers from entering jobs in which they could otherwise excel.” The press release also includes progress reports for states that have eased occupational licensing burdens, and highlights the need for reform for immigrants, who also face significant barriers obtaining licenses.

Though the White House’s role is limited because state governments primarily govern occupational licensing, the administration’s recognition of occupational licensing’s undue burden is encouraging and signals positive traction made by reformers.