Additional Opportunities in Occupational Licensing
Occupational licensing has boomed in the last few decades. Today, one in three people needs an occupational license to work. In the 1950s, it was one in twenty. Missouri made big progress in reducing barriers to work by establishing occupational licensing reciprocity in 2020. This means that out-of-state licenses now qualify as licensure in Missouri. However, the legislature slowed down on occupational licensing reforms in the 2021 session. A few small (but meaningful, especially to those affected) changes were made, discussed here. Other states found various ways to reduce red tape for their workers, and Missouri lawmakers should take notes.
In Mississippi, eyebrow threaders, eyelash technicians, and makeup artists can now operate without an esthetician license. Niche occupations such as these often get lumped into a license for which the training and education requirements are overly broad and don’t relate to the specific occupation. Missouri lawmakers fixed one example of this problem this year—a shampooer no longer needs to be a fully licensed cosmetologist or barber. In the future, lawmakers should review occupational licenses to make sure other niche occupations are unfairly burdened by license regulations and standards.
Ohio will enter the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact this year (and the Nursing Licensure Compact, of which Missouri is already a member), allowing workers to move and work more freely between states. Though Missouri has universal licensing reciprocity, compacts such as these would make it easier for Missouri licensed workers to work in other states that may not have universal reciprocity, but are in the same compact.
South Carolina will soon allow licensed barbers to apply for a license to operate out of a mobile unit and Nebraska repealed locksmith registration requirements after a licensing review found many problems with the current state of locksmith registration. Both measures increase opportunities for workers and consumers, which can ultimately promote economic freedom and growth in these states.
Missouri has another chance to do right by its workers next year. Though lawmakers have taken steps to curb the negative effects of occupational licensing, that forward momentum should continue. Missouri could create opportunities for workers and consumers and spur economic growth by ensuring niche occupations are free from broad licensing requirements, participating in interstate licensing compacts, and eliminating overly burdensome and ineffective licenses and restrictions. Using other states as a guide, we should pursue similar occupational licensing reforms next year.