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dir="ltr">Gov. J.B Pritzker commended the first class of students from two state-run barber and cosmetology schools at Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice’s Warrenville and Chicago facilities.
“When we provide opportunities for growth and for job training to our young people, when they learn to believe in themselves, great things happen,” Pritzker said, noting the hundreds of hours required to cut hair in Illinois. “These amazing young people have successfully completed their 1,500 hours of instruction and clinicals and will soon be sitting for their state board exams.”
Illinois’ occupational licensure program requires prospective cosmetologists and barbers to complete more work hours in training than is required to be an EMT. Defenders of licensure often city consumer health and safety as justification for the long licensure processes, but the barriers to employment can have economic consequences.
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“It’s good that Illinois is training people for a job that they can work in after prison because too many times we train them for professions they can’t legally work in,” said Shoshana Weissmann, a fellow with the nonprofit R Street Institute. “But, having to go through thousands of hours of training, sometimes that are irrelevant or not as important, in order to not be arrested for practicing a profession can be really abusive.”
The requirements are more difficult for someone of limited means, Weisman said, since taking months to attend cosmetology school may not be feasible or affordable.
“On prices, the evidence is clear: licensure is associated with higher consumer prices,” said Mercatus Center Senior Fellow Matt Mitchell. “Unfortunately, it does not seem to be associated with improvements in quality and it comes at the expense of adverse employment outcomes for ethnic minorities, immigrants, those with prior convictions, and those for whom English is a second language.”
The effect is often higher costs for anything provided by a licensed industry.
“When you have people putting in more time and resources into completing something, you get fewer professionals,” Weisman said.
A 2018 report from the Archbridge Institute found that additional barriers in occupational licensing likely resulted in greater income disparity.
"Illinois added licensing requirements for 25 moderate-income occupations from 1993 to 2012,” author Ed Timmons said. “This increase was found to be associated with a 2.8% decrease in economic mobility and a 6.5% increase in income inequality. There is an intuitive explanation for this finding. By erecting often arbitrary barriers to entry, occupational licensing blocks many entrepreneurs from starting a new business."
Former Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation in 2017 that cut red tape for some looking to make a living in their state-approved profession.