Although many factors have contributed to the decline in geographic mobility over the past several decades, the role of occupational licensing is undeniable. When workers must become re-licensed in a different state (or move to a state where they must become licensed to work in their chosen profession), this creates a disincentive to move to a state that would otherwise have greater economic opportunity for the professional.
In recognition of this, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey promoted a universal licensing regime in his State of the State address last month:
If people want to work, let’s let them work! 100,000 people will move here this year. There’s a job available for every one of them. Lots of them are trained and certified in other states. Standing in their way of earning a living in Arizona, our own licensing boards, and their cronies who tell them — “You can’t work here. You haven’t paid the piper.”
Let’s stop this foolishness. Pass Warren Petersen’s [who has introduced other licensing reforms in the past] bill to grant universal recognition for all occupational licenses — and let them work.
And before those unelected boards feign outrage – let’s remember: workers don’t lose their skills simply because they move to Arizona. And, in the name of good government, let’s have the bullies on these boards answer three questions: what do you exist to do, how do you know if you’re doing it well, and who would miss you if you were gone?
The bill referenced in the Governor’s address is HB 2569, which would grant an Arizona license to any Arizona resident (or military spouse) who passed all requirements to become licensed in another state.
Though this is a reform all state would be wise to consider, it’s a particularly good idea for Arizona, and other Sunbelt states, which have experienced large population inflows over the past few decades, attributable in part to low housing costs (especially relative to neighboring California).