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Morris Kleiner, University of Minnesota: Occupational Licensing’s Sticky Effects

December 13, 2017

University of Minnesota labor professor Morris Kleiner talks about how occupational licensing is a real drag for workers.

Is occupational licensing a barrier to interstate migration? Heartland Institute research fellow Jesse Hathaway is joined by University of Minnesota labor studies professor Morris Kleiner, who says he knows the answer to the question.

Kleiner’s new study, just published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, asks that very question, and the answer is “yes.”

In the study, Kleiner analyzed the interstate migration of workers in 22 licensed occupations, finding that individuals in occupations with state-specific licensing exam requirements are 36 percent less likely to move to better states.

Occupational licenses make it harder for workers to find work, Kleiner says, because getting licensed in other states can require reapplying for government permission to work, even though they’ve already done so once. Because of the cost of jumping through the hoops required to get the government’s permission to work, many workers are becoming “stuck” where they’re at, and are not leaving states with poor policies for states with friendlier regulatory and tax codes.

Occupational licensing, Kleiner says, is one of the biggest government burdens on workers in the U.S., restricting the normal flow of taxpayers and workers moving between states. 
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Jesse Hathaway is a policy advisor for budget and tax issues at The Heartland Institute. @JesseinOH