The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Tennessee & Avenues for Reform

March 31, 2022 10:16AM

Written by:

Macy Scheck, Research Analyst at the Political Economy Research Institute, Middle Tennessee State University

Ron Shultis, Director of Policy and Research, Beacon Center of Tennessee

Daniel J. Smith, Director of the Political Economy Research Institute, Professor of Economics, Middle Tennessee State University

Protik Nandy, Political Economy Research Institute Ph.D. Dissertation Fellow

Key Takeaways:

  • While Tennessee is generally considered a more free-market-oriented state, one area it regulates more heavily is in occupational licensing, essentially a government permission slip to do a job;
  • Tennessee has over 263 different occupational licenses, registrations, and certifications, covering 30 percent of the Tennessee workforce;
  • The economic cost of obtaining these onerous licensing regulations conservatively costs Tennessee workers over
    $279 million just to enter an occupation of their choice; and
  • Renewing their existing license costs these Tennessee workers nearly $38 million per year.