New Jersey’s Occupational Licensing Laws Hold Back Workers

By February 22, 2017Uncategorized

If you want to work in one of these 200 professions in New Jersey, you need the government’s permission before you can start. Looking through the list, it’s surprising to see that casino workers, locksmiths, and career counselors are some of the jobs that require occupational licenses from the state.

These laws were first passed in the name of consumer safety, which makes sense. It’s comforting to know that your doctor or dentist has received the training they need to perform medical procedures on you. But over the years, occupational licensing has exploded and is now unnecessarily applied to many entry-level positions, which keeps competition out of the market and raises prices on consumers.

That’s exactly what happened when the New Jersey Assembly voted to place licensing requirements on anyone who builds, installs, repairs or maintains pools and spas. The association advocating for the bill said, “it’s good for the industry,” and that “you can raise the rates you’re charging because you’re … a licensed pool builder or service professional.”

The Garden State has some of the most onerous occupational licensing laws in the country, according to research by the Institute for Justice (IJ). Just consider the educational requirements between a cosmetologist and an emergency medical technician (EMT). A cosmetologist needs 280 days of experience, while an EMT needs only 28 days.

Hair braiding falls under the cosmetology license requirements in New Jersey. That means in order to braid hair—no cutting, coloring or chemicals involved—a person is required to have 280 days of training, pass two exams, and pay $110 in licensing fees. And that’s after paying for cosmetology school, which can cost approximately $15,000 in the state.

Many hair braiders can’t afford the cost of tuition and fees, let alone taking time off from work in order to receive training. Thankfully, New Jersey lawmakers are starting to realize that these types of requirements do more harm than good. They’re currently considering a bill that will exempt hair braiders from cosmetology requirements.

But it’s not just hair braiders who are held back by occupational licensing laws. IJ notes that many of New Jersey’s low- and moderate-income occupations face high barriers to entry. Another analysis found that New Jersey could create 34,000 more jobs if unnecessary licensing requirements were eliminated.

For young people just entering the workforce or individuals struggling to get ahead, occupational licensing requirements can make or break a career. It’s time to knock down these barriers that keep people unemployed or from pursuing their dreams.

Author Clay Sutton

Clay Sutton is the Press Secretary for Generation Opportunity.

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