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The Declaration of Independence lists the “pursuit of happiness” as one of Americans’ “unalienable rights.” For most, this includes the ability to pursue a vocation of their choice. But occupational licensure laws stand in the way of many people trying to exercise this right. For too many people, the right to pursue their dreams has been halted by governments that require them to jump through hoops, pay fees and meet other often arbitrary and inconsistent requirements.

This report gathers data on every occupational license in Michigan. It describes the impact and costs of licensure laws, as documented in the empirical research that has been conducted on this issue. It explains how and why licensing requirements are typically created, but also outlines some of the fundamental problems with a broad licensing regime. Finally, it compares Michigan’s licensing requirements to those of other states and makes recommendations for how the state could reform occupational licensure for the benefit of job-seekers and entrepreneurs and for the state’s economy as a whole.