As momentum for occupational licensing reform grows so do the depths to which opponents are willing to sink to maintain special treatment. Today’s occupational licensing laws protect established licensees, by making it more difficult for competitors to enter their industries. In fact, 30 percent of workers must seek government’s permission to work. A current fight in Arizona over exempting low-income applicants from initial licensing fees shows that this protection is apparently worth using misleading statistics to protect.
But first consider the case of interior designer licensing. Although interior design only requires a license in Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington, D.C., it takes them an average of six years and hundreds of dollars to gain the government’s permission to work.
This fight exposes the baseless nature of most arguments in favor of stringent licensing requirements. During a 2011 Florida House hearing when the American Society of Interior Designers was pushing for further licensing, licensed interior designer Michelle Early said although her profession “sounds like this simple hanging curtains on a wall… it only takes a couple things to go wrong for people to lose their lives.” Early went on to claim that improper interior design leads to 88,000 deaths per year.