Hair styling and medical fields are among the occupations where state rules can bar entry; Biden has pushed for changes
Licensing regulations have halted expansion plans for the salon, Ashley N’Dakpri says. Afro Touch has filed suit against the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology over the rules.
The coronavirus pandemic has heated up the long simmering debate on whether a swath of workers should need a license for jobs such as hair braiding, nursing and fitness training.
More than 1,100 occupations are licensed in at least one state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year, 29 million workers, nearly a quarter of those employed full time, held a license, the Labor Department said. In the 1950s, about 5% of workers had licenses, according to researchers.
President Biden, a Democrat, and some congressional Republicans say the need to hold a license to work in many different roles blocks Americans from taking well-paying jobs. Those concerns have been raised as job openings rose to a record 10.1 million at the end of June, but 3.4 million fewer workers were in the labor force that month versus February 2020, before the pandemic took hold in the U.S.
Advocates of the requirements say licenses and regulations around occupations such as barbers and insurance agents help keep the public healthy and protected, something that came into sharper focus during the pandemic.