Credentialism: Changes in Occupational Licensing Burdens across States

Matthew Mitchell & Anne Philpot:

Over the past six decades, occupational licensing has expanded rapidly. In 1950, just 5 percent of all US workers needed a license to do their jobs. Today, one in four Americans must be licensed by a state to do his or her job. When federal licensing requirements are included, the number approaches 30 percent.

As we documented in a recent public interest comment filed with the Federal Trade Commission, a consensus among economists and policy experts on the left and the right has emerged in recent years. That consensus suggests that licensure in the United States is excessive, limits competition, raises consumer prices, has a disparate impact on certain communities, and has little or no effect on either quality or public safety.