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Congratulations Arkansas, We’re Number Two! (For Barriers Into Industry)

Updated: Apr 13

Did you know that, in the state of Arkansas, it’s easier to become an EMT than a barber?

Emergency Management Technicians are allowed on the job after only 28 days of training. Barbers must obtain 350 days of training. In fact, 30 licensed occupations require longer training than EMTs in the state.

You may remember that earlier in the week I wrote about the Institute for Justice’s new report that ranked Arkansas as the “5th most broadly and onerously licensed state in the country.”  The full report, titled “License To Work,” says the state’s high ranking is driven mostly by the years of education and work experience required for most construction work in the state:

Workers in other states are required to undergo only between 507 days (sheet metal workers) and 390 days (insulation contractors) of training to get a job in the same occupations, on average. Many states either do not have training requirements or do not require a license at all.

In Arkansas, the required days of experience are 1,825, or 5 years. And believe it or not, some Arkansas lawmakers tried to raise these hurdles on construction workers during the last legislative session, as reported by our own David Kinkade.

The report also lists all of the 52 occupations that require a license here in The Natural State.

Some of the most ridiculous include:

  1. Door Repair Contractor

  2. Teacher Assistant

  3. Mobile Home Installer (only in Arkansas!)

  4. Makeup Artist

  5. Fisher

  6. Funeral Attendant

  7. Animal Trainer

More bad news from the report:

Arkansas licenses a number of occupations that few other states do, such as funeral attendants, psychiatric technicians and residential drywall installers. Moreover, many occupations are subject to entry restrictions that exceed national averages. Opticians in Arkansas, for instance, must train for more than three years, about a year more than the national average. Fire alarm installers lose 1,095 days to education and experience requirements versus a national average of 486 days.

So, this raises the question: Why are we making it so hard on people to work? Shouldn’t we be working towards lowering hurdles in our state, which desperately needs an economic boost? Shouldn’t we be empowering the entrepreneurial spirit of Arkansans? And how can we ever compete with other states for jobs as long as we are regulating and taxing jobs that they are not?

Arkansas cannot hope to grow its frail economy until we reform our licensing system and end this regulatory tyranny. It’s a matter of freedom and sound economic policy.

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