Quote of the Day:

To state [Conn.] Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, “Raising women up” apparently means depriving them of employment opportunities.

–Reason Online

The state of Connecticut has been the only state where “nail technicians” (aka manicurists) can work without being licensed. But that may change.

As Scott Shackford reports in Reason, state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest has shoved through the state legislature a new bill that would require licensing for estheticians, including nail and “eyebrow technicians.”

It would also require expensive inspections for salons.

Shackford writes:

Occupational licensing of service sector jobs deprives workers—including many minorities, women, and immigrants—from access to entry-level jobs.

A review of academic literature performed by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Labor found that licensing workers in these fields does not protect consumer health or safety. Licenses also drive up the cost of services and restrict mobility.

Nevertheless, Gilchrest claimed that the lack of licensing in Connecticut’s beauty industry is a health hazard, and insisted that women are getting injured by unlicensed workers and unsafe salons.

She also said that salons in Connecticut are hotbeds of human trafficking, a claim that couldn’t stand up to scrutiny when she first introduced her bill back in February.

Adding insult to injury, salons will have to pay up to $250 to be inspected.

Furthermore, there will be a commission to establish new standards for salons:

Everybody likely to be involved in writing the regulations will have some sort of incentive to erect obstacles to people currently outside the industry.

Beauty schools will likely push for as many mandatory educational hours as possible, and current workers may ask to be grandfathered in. Future estheticians will pay the costs of getting these jobs, many of them with student loans. Some would-be estheticians will not be able to afford this career path at all.

The state rep, according to Shackford, did not provide information indicating that Connecticut’s nail salons are harmful to public health. The drive for licensing was presented as a feminist issue:  

Instead, we get amazing stories—like this one from Connecticut’s National Public Radio affiliate—that suggest it’s sexist to not demand licenses and mandate education for nail salon workers. This claim comes from women within the industry who want the state’s stamp of approval for their work (and the income premium that comes from erecting a barrier to entry behind them). 

Note that the voices in this NPR story are people who are manicurists, not customers. They don’t even talk to nail salon customers in Connecticut to get a sense of whether women feel as though they are at risk due to a lack of occupational licensing.

This is just the latest example of government regulations making it harder for people to work.