New Hampshire Should Welcome Out-of-State Workers
Assistant Director, Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation, West Virginia
New Hampshire House Executive Departments and Administration Committee
January 19, 2023
Chair McGuire, Vice Chair Simon, and all distinguished members of the House Executive
Departments and Administration Committee:
Thank you for allowing me to testify on the regulation of beauty services and professionals in
New Hampshire. I am the assistant director of the Knee Center for the Study of Occupational
Regulation at West Virginia University. The main takeaways of my comments are the following:
1. New Hampshire has a shortage of workers and should not create arbitrary barriers for
potential new residents.
2. Research shows that occupational licensing restricts geographic mobility by 7 percent.
3. Recognizing out-of-state licenses is an excellent way to attract workers to the state.
New Hampshire is in a strong economic position, and policymakers should be commended for
setting the state up for prosperity. New Hampshire has a relatively strong labor market: in
November 2022 the unemployment rate was below the national average and the labor force
participation was above the national average.(1)
Unfortunately, employers in New Hampshire are having a hard time finding the workers they
need to fill current job openings. New Hampshire has one of the most severe worker shortages in
the nation. With 49 available workers for every 100 job openings in the state, the inability of
businesses to fill openings is holding back New Hampshire.(2)
We estimate that 16 percent of workers in New Hampshire require a license to work.(3) Licensing
is the most stringent form of professional regulation. These laws forbid professionals from
working until they meet licensing requirements. Education, hands-on training, and exams create
barriers to entry into a profession. Research estimates that it reduces the supply of professionals
by up to 27 percent.(4)
Licensing also creates a barrier to entry for those considering a move to another state. Because
occupational licensing is passed by state legislatures, moving to a new state often entails
reapplying, taking exams, and sometimes even going through education and training again.
Moving is already an expensive process, and this added cost can dissuade professionals from
moving. We estimate that licensing laws reduce geographic mobility by 7 percent.(5)
It does not only impact licensed professionals. In two-income households, a professional who
does not require a license may forego moving if their spouse would need to go through a long
New Hampshire will not be going out on a limb if it unconditionally recognizes barbering,
cosmetology, and esthetics licenses from other states. Currently, 14 states, including neighboring
Connecticut, accept all beauty professional licenses, and several more do with some experience.
Many of these laws have been in place for years, with no complaints of consumer harm. Six
states have gone even further, accepting licenses for all licensed professions.(6) Arizona, the first
state to recognize out-of-state licenses, has already seen beneficial effects from enacting this
legislation. An estimated 6,000 or more skilled workers have moved to Arizona since passage of
Given the difficulties of finding available workers faced by New Hampshire businesses, forcing
new residents to complete arbitrary hurdles to begin working is especially costly. Allowing
licensed professionals to bring their license with them increases worker mobility while leaving
consumer protections in place. This is no silver bullet to alleviate hiring difficulties, but a
commonsense reform to help those looking to move to New Hampshire.
1 “Unemployment Rates for States,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified December 16, 2022,
2 Lindsay Cates and Stephanie Ferguson, Understanding America’s Labor Shortage: The Most Impacted States. (US
Chamber of Commerce. December 28, 2022).
3 Morris M. Kleiner and Evgeny S. Vorotnikov, At What Cost? State and National Estimates of the
Economic Costs of Occupational Licensing (Arlington, VA: Institute for Justice, 2018).
4 Peter Blair and Bobby Chung, “How Much of Barrier to Entry is Occupational Licensing?,” British Journal of
Industrial Relations 57, no. 4 (2019): 919–43
5 Janna E. Johnson and Morris M. Kleiner, “Is Occupational Licensing a Barrier to Interstate Migration?,” American
Economic Journal: Economic Policy 12, no. 3 (2020): 347–73.
6 Office of the Governor of Arizona, Arizona—First in the Nation: Universal Licensing Recognition, n.d.,
https://azgovernor.gov/sites/default/files/universallicensingrecognition1_0.pdf; Office of the Governor of Iowa,
“Gov. Reynolds Signs Comprehensive Licensure Legislation,” press release, June 25, 2020,
https://governor.iowa.gov/press-release/gov-reynolds-signs-comprehensive-licensure-legislation; Cameron Gerber,
“Parson Expands License Reciprocity in Missouri,” Missouri Times, July 6, 2020.; Sarah Ulmer, “Governor Signs
Bill for Universal Recognition of Occupational Licenses,” Y’all Politics, March 25, 2021; Rebekah Chung, “Gov.
Kelly Signs Military Spouse Occupational Licensing Bill,” KSNT, April 21, 2021.; Bradley Vasoli, “Ohio Enacts
Universal Occupational License Recognition,” The Ohio Star, January 4, 2023.
7 “Breaking Down Barriers to Work with Universal Recognition: Frequently Asked Questions,” Goldwater Institute,
last updated March 2022, https://goldwaterinstitute.org/universalrecognition/.