The following post was written by Kelly Barber, University of Florida Junior and SFL Executive Board member.
While many people believe that protesting government regulations like occupational licensing requirements is merely a pastime for privileged, white middle-to-upper class businessmen with too much time and money on their hands, the Institute for Justice does great work fighting for the low-income, less-educated racial minorities that occupational licensing hurdles disproportionately hurt.
On average, licensing requirements force workers to spend almost nine months in training and to spend over $200 in fees. One-third of the required licenses take over a year to earn. The jobs most effected by licensure- interior designers, cosmetologists, florists, funeral attendants, home entertainment installers, and barbers- do not pose high health or safety risks. Many such workers are budding entrepreneurs and licensing requirements prevent the creation of new jobs in addition to increasing consumer costs.
While the percentage of the American workforce impacted by licensing requirements has greatly increased from 5% in 1950 to 33% today regulations aimed at racial discrimination, have a long tradition in American history.
Before the Civil War, 5.6% of African Americans worked in artisan careers as blacksmiths, carpenters, barbers, shoemakers, and vendors. After slavery was abolished, African Americans had many more opportunities for economic advancement. They were able to navigate the economy far more freely, had greater access to education, and increased consumption levels heightened demand for artisans’ services. Yet, by 1870, the black artisan population had actually decreased to 3.5% of the black population. In many areas in the South, the number was even lower. (more…)