This article was originally published in Montgomery Advertiser.
I grew up in Etowah County and I’m home visiting my parents, and their two poodles, every holiday.
Each time I’m home I manage to catch up with old friends and every time they ask, “You’re the expert now, what would you do with Alabama’s economy?” There is no simple answer to that question, but when it comes to Alabama’s occupational licensing laws the answer seems a lot more clear.
Occupational licensing makes it illegal for an individual to perform a job without first completing some minimum level of education or training mandated by the state. The economic rationale for licensing is to ensure a minimum level of quality for services performed. That minimum quality is important when it comes to doctors, dentists, and structural engineers. But over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, licensing has spread widely across occupations to cover jobs like barbers, cosmetologists, and funeral directors. According to a 2018 study, just over 18% of workers in Alabama need an occupational license to perform their job.