Thomas Snyder, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomas Snyder is chair of the Department of Economics, Finance, and Insurance & Risk Management, and a professor of economics at the University of Central Arkansas as well as an ACRE Scholar. He earned his BA in economics at Florida State University and his PhD in economics at Florida International University. At UCA, Dr. Snyder has taught Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, Environmental Economics, Economics of Developing Nations, Econometrics, Comparative Economic Systems, Senior Seminar, and International Trade. His main research interests are economic freedom, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. Dr. Snyder has published articles in several journals, including the Journal of Private Enterprise, the Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public PolicyJournal of Economics and BusinessBE Journal of Economic AnalysisJournal of Regional Analysis & Policy, and the Eastern Economic Journal. He has also served four years as the resident master of EPIC Residential College, an entrepreneurship-based program at UCA.


Labor Market Regulation

Academic Journal Publications:

Occupational Licensure and Property Crime by Dr. Thomas Snyder and Saliou Ouattara

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 Dr. Thomas Snyder, Senayt Rinkevich, and Weici Yuan

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.

ACRE Research Papers:

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.



  • Minimum-wage rise perilous – An op-ed by UCA Associate Professor of Economics and ACRE Scholar Thomas Snyder and ACRE Scholar-in-Residence Marcus Witcher was published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on November 1st, 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.
  • Reform Occupational Licensing Rules – commentary published March 26, 2018, by ACRE Director Dr. David Mitchel and ACRE Scholar Dr. Tom Snyder in Arkansas Business News.
  • Invisible Borders: Licensing Burden Hurts State op-ed published December 28, 2017 by ACRE Scholar Dr. Thomas Snyder in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
  • 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 Research Papers:

Charter Schools’ Impact on Traditional Public School Performance: Evidence from Arkansas by Dr. Mavuto Kalulu, Dr. Thomas Snyder, and Saliou N. Ouattara

This study estimates the effects of open-enrollment charter schools on student performance in traditional public schools in Arkansas. The paper examines the change in Iowa Assessment scores for first and second graders across Arkansas school districts between the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. The ordinary least-squares regression estimates demonstrate a positive and statistically significant relationship between elementary charter school enrollment and traditional public school Iowa Assessment scores across districts, controlling for relevant factors. Improvements in traditional public schools’ math, reading, and language test scores were greater in school districts that had a larger percentage of students enrolling in charter schools. The most influential impact of charter schools on predicted test scores was in math, where a 1% increase in elementary charter school enrollment led to a 0.13 predicted improvement in normal-curve-equivalent test scores across Arkansas school districts.

Targeted Incentives

ACRE Working Papers:

Do Business Subsidies Lead to Increased Economic Activity? Evidence from Arkansas’s Quick Action Closing Fund by ACRE Scholar Dr. Thomas Snyder and ACRE Policy Analyst Jacob Bundrick.

The study investigates the relationship between providing cash subsidies to select businesses, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, employment and establishments in Arkansas’s counties. The author’s find no evidence to suggest that Quick Action Closing Fund subsidies lead to increased employment and business establishments in Arkansas’s counties. The working paper was published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and has been accepted for publication in The Review of Regional Studies. You can read a one-page infographic of Bundrick’s research here.


Taxes and Spending


  • On December 22, ACRE Scholar Dr. Thomas Snyder and ACRE Policy Analyst Jacob Bundrick were guests on Newsradio 102.9 KARN talking with Dan Harpool about occupational licensing (including the new Institute for Justice report), Bundrick’s study of the Quick Action Closing Fund, and all the latest in tax reform news (for both Arkansas and the nation).


  • Arkansas Business Status and Future Under The Trump Era Economy transcript of panel discussion featuring ACRE Scholar and UCA Assistant Professor of Economics Jeremy Horpedahl at the 66th Annual Conference of Arkansas College Teachers of Economics and Business. Panel moderator was ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Tom Snyder.