Labor Market Regulation

ACRE Research Papers:

Occupational Licensing Reform Across the United States by Marc Kilmer

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.

The Effects of Arkansas’ Occupational Licensure Regulations by Dr. Thomas Snyder

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 Dr. David Mitchell, Dr. Thomas Snyder, and Ms. Amy Fontinelle

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.

Policy Briefs:

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

map iconDistribution 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.


  • Dr. Dick Carpenter of the Institute for Justice recently visited the University of Central Arkansas for the ACRE’s Distinguished Speaker Series to discuss occupational licensing. While he was visiting, he also had the chance to appear on several radio shows to discuss his work. He called in for interviews on both the Dave Elswick Show and the Paul Harrell Program on November 13th and 14th. He concluded with an in-studio interview on the Doc Washburn Show after his visit to UCA on November 16th.


  • To Reduce Crime: State has means, without cost op-ed published September 28, 2017 by ACRE Scholar Dr. Thomas Snyder and UCA Honors Student Alexandria Tatem in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
  • ACRE Director Dr. David Mitchell testified on February 16, 2017 before the Arkansas House Public Health, Welfare & Labor Committee 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.
  • The Review of Scope of Practice Rules in Arkansas and Task Switching. Testimony (read here) and power point presentation (click here) from ACRE Director, Dr. David Mitchell, PhD for the Arkansas State Legislature Joint Performance Review Committee Meeting on November 9, 2015.
  • Dr. David Mitchell provided expert commentary in an amicus brief on occupational licencing regulations concerning hair braiders. Read the full amicus brief here.
  • Nurse Practitioners & Health Care op-ed published October 26, 2015 by ACRE affiliate Zach Helms. Arkansas Business.
  • For More Freedom op-ed published September 19, 2015 by ACRE Director Dr. David Mitchell. Arkansas Democrat Gazette and Arkansas Online.
  • Regulations and Manufacturing Productivity commentary published published June 17, 2015 by ACRE Policy Analyst Jacob Bundrick. The City Wire.

Blog Posts:

Understanding Why Firms Hire: Minimum Wage Debate – posted on the ACRE Review on July 10, 2015.

Stimulate Job Creation and Economic Development while Preserving Health and Safety Standards HB-1158 – Commentary by Dr. David Mitchell, posted on the ACRE Review on July 10, 2015.

Protecting the Public through Contracting Licensure: A Tale of Three Homes – posted on the ACRE Review on July 10, 2015.


We’re Number 3! Why Arkansas’s Ranking in a New Occupational Licensing Study is Nothing to Cheer About.