You Didn’t Can’t Build That!
How Connecticut’s Occupational License Laws Stifle Entrepreneurship and Job Creation
by Ryan Murphy
Connecticut needs as many entrepreneurs as it can get. But for many would-be small businesspeople, Connecticut’s stringent occupational licensure laws stand in the way.
Connecticut licenses 241 occupations, from hairdressers to glaziers. Often sold in the name of public safety, more often licensure laws serve as artificial barriers to entry designed to limit supply and protect other occupations from unwanted competition. A study by the Institute for Justice considers Connecticut the 15th most broadly and onerously licensed of any state.
(see PDF for the chart)
Nor are such laws applied consistently among the states – something that should raise an eyebrow given the stated motivation of protecting the public health and safety. Some states license florists – one imagines course instruction on preventing consumers from being pricked by a rose’s thorns – while others do not. Sixteen states (including Connecticut) think it’s vital to license sign language interpreters for the deaf. While most states license barbers, the United Kingdom does not and yet Princess Kate’s hair still looks fab.
Of 102 moderate-income occupations licensed in America, Connecticut licenses 54 of them, the most in New England. For example, glazier contractors, a profession which only thirty states require licenses at all, have a Connecticut requirement of 1,867 days (more than five years) of education/experience along with $142 in fees and a required exam. Crane operators, which only 18 states license, require 730 days of education/experience, $100 in fees, and two exams. And conveyor operators (supermarket checkout clerks exempted), which Connecticut is the only state in the nation to license, demands 730 days of education/experience, $142 in fees, and an exam. Removing these senseless licenses, along with the others on the list compiled by the Institute for Justice, will offer employment opportunities for the workers whose lack of education has kept them out of work during
the current recession.
Connecticut requires a license in less than half of all states license should be deregulated.3 Our recommendation that Connecticut ends licensing them, is identical to the policy proposal of The Connecticut Policy Institute,4 which independently reached the same conclusion as we did. These professions are:
Crane operators • Opticians • Conveyor operators • Sign language interpreters • Tree trimmers • Weighers • Forest workers • Home entertainment installers • Residential iron/steel contractors • Animal control officers • Locksmiths • Animal trainers • Backflow prevention assembly testers • Cross-connection survey inspectors • Pharmacy technicians • Upholsterers.
If these professions begin matching the employment rates (as a percentage of the population) found in states without licenses, employment in the professions would increase by 25%-30%. This will lead to an increase in employment of 1,500-2,000.5 Other licensure reforms have been proposed by the Goldwater Institute: 6 1. Create a “sunrise” provision that requires advocates of new licensing proposals to prove their need before they are approved 2. Require that all licensing laws are periodically reauthorized after a rigorous review proves. 3. Require licensing boards to have a supermajority of members drawn from the general public rather than the profession itself. 4. Replace mandatory licensing with voluntary certification. 5. Enact legislation protecting the right to earn a living. 6. Expand the scope of practice for some professionals, allowing them to perform more services.
(See PDF for appendices A, B, and C)