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Over 8,000 Free to Work in AZ Thanks to Goldwater-Led Universal License Recognition

September 12, 2023

Over 8,000 professionals have applied for and been granted a license to work in Arizona thanks to the Goldwater Institute-led universal recognition of occupational licenses reform—in fields ranging from medicine to cosmetology to engineering. Designed by the Goldwater Institute and the Institute for Justice, the revolutionary law creates a streamlined pathway to licensure for America’s skilled workers by allowing them to apply their out-of-state training toward a similar license to work.

In 2019, Arizona became the first state in the nation to enact this essential reform, making life and licensing easier for skilled professionals moving into the Grand Canyon State. Arizona’s landmark reform set the stage for a national movement, with dozens of states undertaking efforts to advance laws to cut the regulatory red tape ensnaring workers and keeping them out of work. Numerous states have enacted versions of universal recognition to benefit military families and other professionals.

Universal recognition isn’t just a commonsense reform—it also makes good economic sense. A recent study published by the Common Sense Institute estimated the economic impact of universal recognition in Arizona would increase the state’s GDP by $1.5 billion over 10 years, and bring in nearly 16,000 additional workers. Earlier this year, the Goldwater Institute released a special analysis of the broader economic implications of Arizona’s reform, including the impact on its labor market and population growth.

Workers in a wide range of professions have benefitted from the new reform. Nearly 500 physicians and 200 physician assistants have been safely licensed by the Arizona Medical Board. The state’s Registrar of Contractors has approved over 2,900 licenses for numerous occupations in the trades. Thousands of additional workers have benefitted from universal recognition, including hundreds of behavioral health examiners and numerous engineers, cosmetologists, and real estate agents and brokers, among many others.

These thousands of success stories represent more than the successful implementation of a transformative idea: they represent the families, careers, and communities that benefit when government steps out of the way of Americans who are skilled, ready, and willing to work.

The Goldwater Institute is grateful for all the champions of universal recognition, with a special thanks to our colleagues at the Institute for Justice and the many incredible state policy groups and state legislators who have worked so diligently to advance this essential reform.

Heather Curry is the Director of Strategic Engagement at the Goldwater Institute. 



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