And these laws have increased significantly over the past several decades. In 1950, about 5 percent of workers in the United States were required to obtain a license in order to work. Today, nearly 25 percent do. In Michigan, that percentage is only slightly lower than the national average. Michigan spends about $153 million directly managing and enforcing occupational regulations, which includes $24 million coming right out of the state’s general fund budget.
Occupational licensure is the government mandating that individuals pay fees, obtain training, complete educational programs or pass certain exams — commonly a combination of these requirements — before they can legally perform a job. Michigan requires licenses for about 160 occupations, everything from an animal control officer to a well driller. Many of these licensing requirements are also found in other states around the country — every state requires licenses for doctors, lawyers, dentists and opticians, for example, and have for a long time. But for other occupations, Michigan is unique in requiring a license or in mandating training and fees that are far higher than those in other states.
The Mackinack Center