Around one-third of American adults have a criminal record. While most have moved on with their lives, the consequences of having a rap sheet stay with them—particularly when it comes to finding work. One year after their release from prison, between 60 percent and 75 percent of ex-offenders remain unemployed. Given the uphill battle that those with criminal records face rebuilding their lives, state governments should not create additional hurdles through occupational licensing restrictions.
An occupational license is essentially a government permission slip required to work in a certain profession. Today, around 30 percent of U.S. jobs require licenses to work. These requirements vary widely from state to state, and their necessity is often dubious. Licensing creates high barriers to work for everyone, but for people with criminal records, these barriers often are insurmountable and permanent.