Barbers to require licences to operate in State of Arizona…

Jason Snead points to this interesting bit of news on the continuous economic battle between state and markets.

State sponsored Arizona Board of Barbers on its website warns against rise in unlicenced barbers in the state:

It has come to the attention of this board and our Executive Board as well, that many shops are not paying attention to the required laws that govern the shop’s they run with regard to allowing unlicensed individuals or students to work…..

This is a final warning that we will be fining you in the very near future with a citation fine of 1500 dollars per unlicensed individual in your shops. 

No excuses….and no deals with payment plans. Break the law and pay the fine. Work fairly or pay dearly!!

We can no longer tolerate this infraction….We will no longer tolerate this behavior!!

Snead says real trouble is not public health but unwarranted licencing:

The Board of Barbers is concerned about the rampant outbreak of unlawful trimming, but Arizonans should be concerned about an entirely different kind of epidemic.

Nationwide, jobseekers  and business owners are dealing with the consequences of the massive expansion of unjustifiable occupational licensing schemes that have no connection to public health and safety.

Occupational licensing is part of a regulatory scheme that requires workers to attend classes, pass examinations, and pay sometimes exorbitant fees before entering certain professions. It is essentially a government permission slip for work, and Arizona, along with every other state, requires that barbers obtain such a license before they can ply their trade.

To become a barber in Arizona, one must pass the 10th grade or obtain a GED, spend 1,500 hours at a barber college, pay $100 to take written and practical tests, and pay an additional $40 license fee and $80 biannual renewal fees.

Moreover, Arizona has license reciprocity with only 28 states and charges $175 to applicants from those states seeking work in Arizona. If you are already a licensed barber from one of the other 21 states and you now want to ply your trade in Arizona, you have to start from square one.

It is still fine to see medicine and air pilots requiring such licencing, but barbers?

Those in favor of occupational licenses argue that they are necessary to ensure safety and quality within an industry. In some cases—like doctors and pilots, for example—they have a point. Fears of dangerous barbers and other low-risk professions are unfounded, however, as demonstrated.

Alabama was the last state to establish a board of barbers, passing its occupational licensing legislation in May 2013. Decades earlier, Alabama had actually eliminated its barbering board, and in the ensuing decades barbers were not regulated or inspected.

If not for health and safety risks, why impose the licensing requirement? The short answer is protectionism.

Oddly enough, one cannot find any reports of Alabama barbers abusing their customers or placing them at risk of anything other than a bad haircut, a problem that can easily be remedied through a series of one-star Yelp reviews.

If not for health and safety risks, why impose the licensing requirement? The short answer is protectionism. Entry barriers such as licensing requirements heavily favor those already employed in the licensed profession by reducing their competition, thereby allowing them to charge higher fares for their services.

In some cases, incumbents are exempt from the new rules altogether, thanks to generous grandfathering clauses that apply the new rules only to new workers. That is why, in many cases, those in a given profession argue for burdensome regulations—a seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon known as rent seeking.


I am wondering about barber laws in India now.  These are aspects of local economics which on which we are just clueless.

India has other problems as well on this front. This news tells you how ignorant barbers are about spread of HIV via common blades. So how does one mitigate all these risks?


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