Labor Market Regulation

2023 Legislative Session

Occupational Licensing Policy Recommendations

Academic Journal Publications

“Nurse practitioner scope of practice and the prevention of foot complications in rural diabetes
patients” by ACRE Director and UCA Professor of Economics Dr. David Mitchell, Dr. Danny R. Hughes and Candice Filar

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ACRE Director and UCA Professor of Economics Dr. David Mitchell and coauthors find that nurse practitioner practice authority was associated with 219.4 fewer foot debridements per 10,000 enrollees in rural counties. Debridements are the removal of damaged tissue or foreign objects from a wound. Mitchell and coauthors conclude nurse practitioner practice authority may be an effective solution for preventing complications from diabetic foot ulcers in rural communities.

“U.S. State Occupational Licensing: Measuring its Impact on Business Establishments during the Great Recession” by ACRE Policy Analyst Alex Kanode, ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Thomas Snyder and ACRE Undergraduate Research Fellow Elsa Mattson

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Did a state’s occupational licensing requirements affect business creation during the Great Recession?

U.S. State Occupational Licensing: Measuring its Impact on Business Establishments during the Great Recession” co-authored by ACRE Policy Analyst Alex Kanode, ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Thomas Snyder and ACRE Undergraduate Research Fellow Elsa Mattson (left), published in the International Journal of Business & Applied Sciences (Vol. 9 Issue 3, 2020), examines this question.

Mattson, Kanode and Snyder found that states and counties with higher licensing requirements had bigger losses in service business establishments during the Great Recession of 2007.

“Occupational Licensure and Property Crime” by Thomas Snyder and Saliou Ouattara

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This study looks at the relationship between occupational licensing regulations and property crime. The analysis in this paper finds a positive relationship between occupational licensing regulations on property crime as well as a negative relationship between occupational licensing requirements and labor force participation rates. Younger people particularly suffer from the negative consequences of high licensing burdens. These high licensing burdens as well as other barriers to work from labor market regulations makes it harder to find gainful employment and makes the alternative – property crime – more appealing. This study, published by the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, looks in depth at the relationship between occupational licensing and property crime.

“Do Minimum Wage Increases Affect SNAP Benefits?” by Thomas Snyder, Senayt Rinkevich, and Weici Yuan

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The Great Recession greatly increased the number of people in the U.S. who joined the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Even though the economy recovered, SNAP enrollment remained high. This study looks at how increases in the minimum wage may have affected the number of SNAP beneficiaries and the cost of the program. Normally, a minimum wage increase can decrease poverty through higher wages or increase poverty by creating a barrier to work. This study found that at low minimum wages, any increase reduced SNAP enrollment and benefits. At high minimum wages, any increases also increased SNAP enrollment and benefits.

Research Papers

“The State of Occupational Licensure in Arkansas” by Patrick A. McLaughlin, Matthew D. Mitchell, Anne Philpot, and Thomas Snyder

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This Mercatus Center Research Paper outlines occupational licensure in Arkansas by giving a snapshot of the entire landscape of occupational licensing in Arkansas. It goes into detail explaining how Arkansas is above the national average in terms of number of licensed occupations, licensing fees, and required training and experience. It explains how very few studies show clear positive effects resulting from occupational licensing. Most studies show that occupational licensing increases prices, doesn’t increase quality, and has a disparate impact on  ethnic minorities, military spouses, and others.

“The Effects of Arkansas’ Occupational Licensure Regulations” by Thomas Snyder

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Arkansas’ extensive occupational licensure requirements hurt the state’s economy, particularly harming the state’s poor. Governments require some occupations to be licensed, making it illegal to work in one of these trades without a license. Arkansas not only requires many occupations to be licensed, but it also has the second-highest average burden—in terms of time and money—imposed on the licensed occupations, second only to Hawaii. In other words, not only does Arkansas require licensure of more categories of workers than most states do, the difficulty of acquiring each license in Arkansas is especially burdensome when compared to other states.

Policy Reviews

“Unnatural Rights in the Natural State” by David Mitchell, Thomas Snyder, and Amy Fontinelle

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In this review, the authors examine which occupations have the most burdensome licensing laws, how these restrictions affect job seekers, entrepreneurs, and consumers; and how we can reform the worst parts of these regulations.

“Occupational Licensing Reform Across the United States” by Marc Kilmer

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More Americans are working in licensed occupations than ever before. States all across the country are increasingly turning to licensing, but at the same time, many states are beginning to realize that this system of licensing needs reform. States such as Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Indiana, and Louisiana have taken steps towards reform. This report, A Look at Occupational Licensing Reform Across the United States, was written by Marc Kilmer, an ACRE affiliated-researcher for the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics, as an  exploration into the reforms from these other states and what Arkansas can learn from them. Three things emerged as important factors contributing to reform. These were political leadership from the state’s Governor, the establishment of commissions with clear guidelines, and outside groups working for reform.

Policy Briefs

“Solving Arkansas’s Primary Care Problems by Empowering Nurse Practitioners” by David Mitchell, Jordan Pfaff, and Zachary Helms

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Click to view a map of the distribution of primary care physicians and alternatives in Arkansas.

Like the rest of the country, Arkansas faces a growing shortage of primary health care providers. One of the most promising approaches to alleviating this shortage is to expand the use of nurse practitioners.  Nurse practitioners are trained to provide primary care and research shows to be as effective as physicians in providing primary care. Arkansas regulations restrict nurse practitioner’s ability to practice independently, diminishing nurse practitioners’ ability to meet Arkansans’ primary care needs.  This policy brief examines access to primary care in Arkansas, current restrictions on the use of nurse practitioners, and the magnitude of diabetes-related costs in the state that could be alleviated by expanding nurse practitioners’ scope of practice.

Policy Statements

“Occupational Licensing and Arkansas’s Act 600” by Alex Kanode

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Arkansas legislators just wrapped up their first round of sunset reviews of Arkansas’s occupational licenses. What changes are in store? A just-released policy statement, “Occupational Licensing and Arkansas’s Act 600,” by ACRE Economic Policy Analyst Alex Kanode discusses the reforms and missed opportunities of the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Occupational Licensing Review Subcommittee’s first round of sunset reviews.

Op-Eds and Commentary

  • “Arkansas Stacks on Too Many Collateral Consequences of Conviction “ op-ed by written by former ACRE Scholar Caleb Vines appeared in the Arkansas Times on May 23, 2022. The piece summarized his award-winning paper, “Do Barriers to Work for Justice-Impacted People Incentivize Criminal Behavior?”, co-authored by ACRE policy analyst Zachary Burt and ACRE affiliated scholar Dr. Thomas Snyder.
  • “Making Licensing Law Review Easier”   op-ed by ACRE Research Analyst Zachary Burt published in the  March 12, 2022 Arkansas-Democrat Gazette discussing ACRE’s contributions towards improving Arkansas’s sunset review process for occupational licenses.
  • Hairy Regulations” op-ed by former ACRE Undergraduate Research Fellow Tanner Corley published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on December 11, 2020 about the history of barber licensure in Arkansas.
  • Show-Me the way” by ACRE Policy Analyst Alex Kanode and ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Thomas Snyder published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on October 22, 2020 about a recent occupational licensing reform
    passed by the Missouri legislature.
  • Free Nurse Practitioners” by former ACRE Undergraduate Research Fellow Zak Massey published in Arkansas Business on July 27, 2020 about nurse practitioner regulations in Arkansas.
  • Improve access” op-ed by ACRE Economic Policy Analyst Dr. Maryam Almasifard published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on March 9, 2020 about increasing scope of practice for nurse practitioners in Arkansas.
  • “Red Tape Reduced”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Alex Kanode published in the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette on May 25, 2019. In the op-ed, Kanode discusses the situation surrounding the recently established Sunset Review process for occupational licenses in Arkansas.
  • Let them work“: op-ed by UCA Associate Professors of Economics David Mitchell and Thomas Snyder published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on March 4, 2019 about licensing laws hindering ex-offenders from being able to get honest work and also burden Arkansas taxpayers with the added costs of incarceration.
  • “Better Health Care: Empower Nurse Practitioners”: op-ed by ACRE Director Mitch Mitchell was published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on December 31, 2018. In the op-ed, Mitchell writes that Arkansas faces a growing primary care shortage, but there is a solution – nurse practitioners.
  • “Minimum-wage Rise Perilous”: op-ed by ACRE Scholar Thomas Snyder and Scholar-in-Residence Marcus Witcher was published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on November 1, 2018. They detail some of the troubling history behind previous minimum wage increases and briefly discuss some of the economic theory showing which groups are most harmed by minimum wage increases.
  • “Lower the Barriers”: op-ed published by ACRE Policy Analyst Alex Kanode in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on September 7, 2018.
  • “Reform Occupational Licensing Rules”: commentary published by ACRE Director David Mitchell and Scholar Thomas Snyder in Arkansas Business News on March 26, 2018,.
  • “Invisible Borders: Licensing Burden Hurts State”: op-ed published by ACRE Scholar Thomas Snyder in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on December 28, 2017
  • “To Reduce Crime: State has means, without cost”: op-ed published by ACRE Scholar Thomas Snyder and UCA Honors Student Alexandria Tatem in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on September 28, 2017.
  • ACRE Director David Mitchell testified before the Arkansas House Public Health, Welfare & Labor Committee on February 16, 2017 regarding the potential savings the state could generate by allowing nurse practitioners to provide primary care to Medicaid patients. The bill, HB1182, failed to get the 11 votes it needed to pass, getting only 10 for and 9 against.
  • ACRE Director David Mitchell testified before the Arkansas State Legislature Joint Performance Review Committee Meeting on November 9, 2015, regarding his research on scope of practice rules in Arkansas and task switching. You can view his powerpoint here.
  • ACRE Director David Mitchell provided expert commentary in an amicus brief on occupational licensing regulations concerning hair braiders. Read the full amicus brief here.
  • “Nurse Practitioners & Health Care”: op-ed published by ACRE affiliate Zach Helms. Arkansas Business on October 26, 2015.
  • “For More Freedom”: op-ed published by ACRE Director David Mitchell. Arkansas Democrat Gazette on September 19, 2015.
  • “Regulations and Manufacturing Productivity”: commentary published by ACRE Policy Analyst Jacob Bundrick in the City Wire on June 17, 2015.

Check out all of our labor market regulation-related blog posts over at the ACRE Review.