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Stimulate Job Creation and Economic Development While Preserving Health and Safety Standards HB-1158

By Dr. David Mitchell

Occupational licensing is an expensive legal requirement that must be met before people have the right to work. It includes education, experience, and testing, all of which is expensive. We say Arkansas is a right to work state, but it is not.

Arkansas has more occupational licensing than any of its neighbors and any of the Southern states, both in terms of the number of occupations and in terms of the education, experience, and expense required to obtain a license. Arkansas requires that 128 occupations be licensed, while Missouri licenses 41, Kansas licenses 56, and New York licenses 77. Of Arkansas’s 128 licensed occupations, 52 are lower wage jobs. In Arkansas, licensure for lower wage jobs requires an average of 689 days of education and experience. Mississippi only requires 155 days.

Our research finds that if Arkansas reduced its low wage licensing rate to that of Missouri, we could add 8,668 more jobs and reduce our unemployment rate from 5.7% to 5.1%. Further, our research shows that if we reduced our occupational licensing to that of Missouri’s, African American poverty rates would fall by 5.3%. These jobs could raise a total of 22,773 African American Arkansans out of poverty. Passing HB 1158 will empower Arkansans.

For more information, contact Dr. David Mitchell (