WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Burdensome occupational licensing requirements can create barriers for workers and add costs to consumers, a White House report released Tuesday found.
The state-issued licenses required to carry out certain jobs should be used only to address legitimate public health and safety concerns, the report recommended.
The White House has met with state leaders on the issue, but economic advisers did not say whether President Barack Obama would go further to press for changes.
“Our goal here is simple: Making sure every American with the skills to do a job has an opportunity to get that job,” Jeff Zients, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said on a call with reporters.
More than one-quarter of U.S. workers require a license to do their jobs, five times more than 1950s levels, the report found. And those requirements have raised prices for consumers by 3 to 16 percent.
Licensing laws for professions such as hair stylists, doctors and construction workers vary widely by state, requiring workers to meet different criteria each time they move across state lines.
“The job is the same across the country but getting the job is a very different process, and discrepancies like these make it harder for workers to go where the jobs are,” Zients said.
That burden is especially felt by military families, immigrants and people with criminal records the report found.
The White House called for states to use flexibility when considering military service members and immigrants who acquire skill sets overseas and seek to translate those skills to a job in the United States.
Restrictions that keep people with criminal records from obtaining certain licenses should also be evaluated, said Betsey Stevenson, a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Reporting By Julia Edwards; Editing by Andrew Hay