WILL Press Release | New WILL study shows how growth of occupational licensing fences out opportunity to workers, resulting in fewer jobs and costing consumers $1.9 billion
In run up to legislative session in January, occupational license reform must be part of discussion about economic opportunity for Wisconsinites
November 15, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – Occupational licenses administered by Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) fences workers out of opportunities and costs consumers nearly $2 billion according to a new study released today by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
The study, the first of its kind to examine the economic and social impact of the more than 240 different types of credentials issued by DSPS, shows a dramatic surge in the number of regulated occupations and license holders. Across the country, a bipartisan consensus – from the Obama White House to the Koch Brothers – has formed that occupational licensing is arguably one of the most substantial barriers to opportunity in America today. While some credentialing serves to protect public health and safety, much is rank protectionism – a device to “fence in” those who already have permission to work and “fence out” those who do not.
The authors – Collin Roth, WILL’s Research Fellow, and Elena Ramlow, WILL’s Policy Intern – explain how occupational licensing has grown in the last 20 years in Wisconsin, why it is a problem, and what the legislature can do about it.
“Our report sheds light on the growing costs of occupational licensing. Whether it is the $1.9 billion price tag for consumers, the 31,000 fewer jobs, or the arbitrary rules and requirements that put Badger State workers at a disadvantage, occupational licensing hurts Wisconsin and it needs reform,” said Roth.
Both the Assembly Republicans and Governor Scott Walker have indicated that this problem could be addressed in the upcoming legislative session. Our report shows why this reform is needed and lays out a menu of policy reforms that policymakers can use to make Wisconsin open for opportunity.
Occupational Licensing in the Badger State by the Numbers:
440,223 – The total number of credential-holders regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS).
244 – The number of credential types regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
34% – Percentage increase from 1996 to 2016 of traditionally regulated credential holders at the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
84% – Percentage increase from 1996 to 2016 of traditionally regulated credentials at the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
$1.93 Billion – The estimated “dead-weight” cost to Wisconsin consumers of traditionally regulated professions at the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
31,634 – The estimated loss in Wisconsin jobs due to traditionally regulated professions at the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.