More than 70 million people with a record in the United States either face significant barriers when seeking a license to work, which is now required for one in four jobs, including many good-paying jobs that are in high demand in healthcare and other industries, or—even worse—they are automatically disqualified, sometimes for life.
A license to work is now required for one in four jobs.
The fact sheet: Nationwide Trend to Reform Unfair Occupational Licensing Laws summarizes 2019 legislative updates in occupational licensing. In 2019, legislatures adopted “fair chance licensing” reforms in at least nine states: Arkansas, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas, and Utah. These new laws take steps to reduce unfair occupational licensing barriers facing the 70 million people—disproportionately people of color—with arrest and conviction records. To varying degrees, the laws eliminate automatic blanket bans against people with records, expand transparency, remove vague statutory language, and adopt fairer evaluation criteria. All 50 states can and should do more to expand access to the approximately one in four jobs that require a license.