From his post:
The statistics are astounding. According to Forbes’ Suzanne Hoppough, from 1960 to 2007 the percentage of U.S. workers belonging to a licensed profession rose from 4.5 percent to 28 percent. In all, writes Hoppough, occupations requiring a government license in at least one state—including dentists, plumbers, hairdressers, secretaries, librarians, wallpaper hangers, and florists—rose from 80 in 1980 to 1100 by 2008.
The economic cost is incalculable. Licensure restricts the supply of workers in the occupations affected, stifling innovation and entrepreneurship, suppressing competition, and driving up prices. And the violation of American’s rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness are patent: We are forbidden to act or contract in accordance with our judgment, forbidden to pursue our happiness as we see fit, forbidden to earn a living in these areas unless we have permission, in the form of a license, from the state.The professions being licensed often talk in terms of guaranteeing quality standards, but too often these are just thinly veiled pretexts to reduce competition.
The Institute for Justice has also just released a major policy paper on this topic, "License To Work" (downloadable PDF version).
They note: "[I]n the 1950s, only one in 20 U.S. workers needed government permission to pursue their chosen occupation. Today, it is closer to one in three."
Here's their associated video: