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New Goldwater Report: Universal Recognition Has Helped Arizonans Get to Work

February 22, 2023

The best path to prosperity is a job. Work brings dignity, hope, and purpose to people by allowing them to earn a living, gain skills, and build social capital that endures. Unfortunately, state and local governments frequently impose regulatory obstacles that hinder this path. But thanks to Arizona House Bill 2569, a Goldwater Institute reform known as “universal recognition,” more than 6,500 workers can now practice their profession without being held back by costly and time-consuming government red tape.

A new Goldwater Institute report by Goldwater Director of Strategic Engagement Heather Curry and former White House Office of Management and Budget Chief Economist Vance Ginn, Ph.D., reveals the impact that Arizona’s 2019 reform has had in the state and how it has become a model for the nation.

Every U.S. state (and D.C.) requires an occupational license to work in certain occupations. Although many states have similar licenses, their differences result in workers being locked into states where they are licensed because of the high cost of moving and obtaining a license in a new state.

But Goldwater’s universal recognition reform, or Breaking Down Barriers to Work, streamlines occupational licensing across dozens of professions by allowing skilled professionals to use their out-of-state experience to quickly obtain a license to work in their new state. Arizona pioneered this approach to help workers relocate, and Goldwater’s new report shows it is already working, incentivizing even more people to move to the state, and supporting long-term economic growth and job creation.

In fact, since universal recognition went into effect in August 2019, over 6,500 people have received a license to work in the state, according to data provided to the Goldwater Institute by licensing boards. This includes hundreds of physicians, thousands of tradespeople, and numerous professionals across dozens of other occupations. As this data reveals, there continues to be demand for expedited licensure from those moving to Arizona, a state that in 2022 had the eighth-largest population percent increase in the nation.

But there is more work to be done. Despite the success of universal recognition, the costs of occupational licensing continue to weigh on Arizona’s economy to the tune of about 188,295 lost jobs, $16.2 billion in lost economic output, and $1,711 in lost income per person. While universal recognition is a substantial reform that removes barriers for many who move to Arizona, the economic gains should be expanded to those who already reside in Arizona by eliminating many onerous licensures.

And around the country, states should follow Arizona’s lead and remove overly burdensome occupational regulations, with universal reforms at the heart of such efforts. The Goldwater Institute has already enacted universal licensing recognition in over 20 states, and other states should continue this trend so that more Americans have an opportunity to flourish.

Read the full report, Thousands Free to Work: The Power of Universal Recognition in Arizona, here.



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