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Let’s Free Workers to Pursue Their American Dream

From: Goldwater Institute

This Labor Day, we celebrate the dignity of workers past and present and how their pursuit of happiness has contributed to the American success story. But today, the government is putting up barriers to millions of workers’ American Dream by tying up workers in endless red tape that prevents them from exercising their right to earn a living.

That’s why it’s so important to free Americans to work—especially amid economic turmoil, with inflation skyrocketing and the nation staring down the face of a looming recession. And it’s why the Goldwater Institute’s Breaking Down Barriers to Work reform gets government out of the way and empowers people to shape their own destinies in the career path of their choice.

Currently, around one in four Americans is required to obtain a license just to do their job—a government permission slip to work in a certain career. These government-imposed barriers exist for a wide range of professions: barbers, plumbers, real estate agents, sign language interpreters, florists, landscapers, coaches, interior designers, and many others. And when a licensed professional moves from one state to the next, they are often forced to go through the costly and time-consuming licensing process all over again—no matter how qualified they are. This is particularly burdensome for members of the military and their families, who move every two to three years while on active duty and are forced to go through the government licensing process every single time.

But under Breaking Down Barriers to Work, a new arrival to a state is eligible to receive a license to practice their profession, so long as the applicant has held a license in good standing for at least one year and was required to complete testing or training requirements in the initiating state. It’s all about streamlining the licensing process for everyone: State licensing boards don’t have to devote unnecessary time to comparing education or training requirements across all 50 states, and applicants are no longer required to jump through hoops just to continue a career they were already doing safely and productively elsewhere.

Breaking Down Barriers to Work has been garnering bipartisan support in states across the country, because it’s a reform that’s simply common sense. The Goldwater Institute first enacted it in Arizona in 2019, and since then, the Goldwater Institute has passed the reform in more than 20 states—including three just in the first half of 2022 alone.

In the states where Breaking Down Barriers is on the books, it’s having real results, empowering thousands and thousands of people to exercise their right to earn a living. So far, nearly 5,000 workers have already benefited from the law in Arizona alone. And the best is yet to come, with one study projecting that by 2030, the reform will increase Arizona’s employment by at least 15,991 workers, raise the state’s population by at least 44,376 people, and grow the state’s Gross Domestic Product by at least $1.5 billion.

This Labor Day, we should keep the dignity of American workers in mind—and in particular, how we can ensure that Americans are free to make a living in the careers they want and need. Breaking Down Barriers is a needed reform to free Americans to work—and to pursue their own American Dream.

You can find out more about Goldwater’s Breaking Down Barriers to Work Reform here.