A new 50-state study by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty finds that Nebraska stands to gain more new jobs from reforms to professional licensing laws than all but four other states.
The study evaluated a set of ten careers that are frequently licensed across the country, but with wide variations in the difficulty of acquiring the license to work.
The study identified Hawaii as the state that imposed the least burden on the set of careers as a whole. By creating a statistical model based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, researchers identified how other states would accelerate job growth in the professions if their policies for the licensed careers matched the Aloha State.
Professions studied for which there is current legislation in Nebraska to reform licensing burdens include cosmetologists, massage therapists, and estheticians.
“Quite simply, states with less burdensome licensing laws have more people working in these fields,” said Will Flanders, Research Director at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, and a study co-author.
According to the study, employment for Nebraskans in the ten studied professions would increase by 7 percent if reforms were made. That projected rate of new jobs places Nebraska in the top five states that would benefit from occupational licensing reform, behind only Tennessee, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
“Nebraska has particularly onerous regulations on a number of professions in our [study], including vet techs and cosmetologists. The 7 percent growth figure suggests that Nebraska is experiencing underemployment in these professions relative to similar states due to their licensing laws,” said Flanders.
Although Nebraska has a low unemployment rate, this finding is important because the state created fewer new jobs than the national average over the last decade. That means Nebraska can be at risk of losing residents due to workers not finding the types of jobs or incomes they’re looking for in our state.
With Nebraska currently falling behind the rest of the country in key measures of economic growth, lawmakers now have even more evidence that continued occupational licensing reform would be of particular benefit to Nebraska’s workforce.