The title of a new Mackinac Center report by Jarrett Skorup, “This Isn’t Working: How Michigan’s Licensing Laws Hurt Workers and Consumers,” shows the various problems posed by today’s level of occupational licensing. While the report focuses on Michigan, it provides a roadmap for other states to follow as they work to restore sanity to their occupational licensing laws.
However, even if states successfully reform their licensing laws, cities like Detroit will stand in the way. Detroit licenses about 60 occupations, imposing extra fees and requirements on top of existing Michigan licenses for about half of these occupations. The other half of the occupations that Detroit licenses are not licensed by the state at all.
Examples range from window washers, who pay a $72 yearly fee, to pawnbrokers, who pay a $984 yearly fee. Even sidewalk shovelers, dry cleaners and furniture movers need licenses to legally work in Detroit. Given the lack of renegade window washers and sidewalk shovelers in Michigan, it is curious why the city chooses to regulate occupations that the rest of the state does not need to.