How the Government Keeps Us from Jobs

Free the Future

By Geoff Wilson

July 2, 2014

This is a Guest Blog Post.

If you can’t find a job, what’s the next best option? Create a job for yourself, of course. In a time of high Millennial unemployment and rising college tuition, skilled labor is the only option that many young people have. Unfortunately, many young professionals face expensive red tape from government-required occupational licensing.

According to the 2012 Institute for Justice report License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing, occupational licensing is widespread across the country and affects a broad range of professions:

“On average, these government-mandated licenses force aspiring workers to spend nine months in education or training, pass one exam and pay more than $200 in fees. One third of the licenses take more than one year to earn. At least one exam is required for 79 [out of 102] of the occupations.”

For example, a young aspiring professional who already knows African style hair braiding is, in many states, banned from braiding anyone’s hair simply because she hasn’t paid hundreds of dollars and gone through hundreds of training hours for a state-issued piece of paper. According to licensure expert Morris Kleiner, only one in twenty Americans needed a license to do their jobs in the 1950s. Today, that number is one in three and includes taxidermists, travel agents, and cosmetologists.

Burdensome licensing laws don’t benefit consumers, like you and me: they benefit established businesses that fear competition. New entrants in the market can offer lower prices and better service. To restrict competition, big businesses support burdensome licensing requirements so that it is too expensive for more businesses to get started. A fair playing field free of government protection for special interests gives everyone the chance to offer their skills to the market. Consumers get more options, and more people, including many Millennials, can make a living from their skills.

Besides, there are many alternatives to government-issued licenses.

Private industry associations are capable of issuing their own certifications to members who demonstrate the necessary skills and safety knowledge. For example, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence already does this for car mechanics. Their certification has certain requirements, and it’s up to consumers to decide whether or not they value the certification. The Better Business Bureau is another example of a private organization that holds businesses accountable for misleading advertisments and scams. And, of course, the Internet has made it easier than ever for consumers to write and read reviews.

Let consumers choose the best professionals with the private certifications they value in the free market. No one, including Millennials, should be shut out of the skilled labor market just because they don’t have the money to obtain a government-issued permission slip.

You can view the original post here.

Geoff Wilson studies Political Science and Public Policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, in New York. He also writes both fiction and non-fiction, and enjoys participating in the liberty movement. His proudest achievements include his Eagle Scout award, and the publication of his first book in Fall of 2013. Geoff can be contacted at: