License requirements

Covid-19 reignites debate over licensing requirements for many jobs

The coronavirus pandemic has heated the long, smoldering debate over whether a group of workers should need a license for jobs such as hair braiding, nursing and physical training.

More than 1,100 professions are licensed in at least one state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year, 29 million workers, or nearly a quarter of those employed full-time, were licensed, the labor department said. In the 1950s, about 5% of workers had licenses, researchers said.

President Biden, a Democrat, and some congressional Republicans say the need to be licensed to work in many different roles prevents Americans from taking well-paying jobs. These concerns were raised as job vacancies hit a record 10.1 million at the end of June, but 3.4 million fewer workers were in the workforce this month compared to February 2020, before that the pandemic does not take hold in the United States.

Defenders of the requirements say licenses and regulations for professions such as barbers and insurance agents help keep the public healthy and protected, which has become more important during the pandemic.

Mr Biden last month signed an executive order calling for streamlining professional licensing requirements, which are set by states, as part of a larger effort to increase competition. The order called on the Federal Trade Commission to ban unnecessary professional licensing restrictions that impede economic mobility.


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