Small businesses support expanding occupational licensing for justice-impacted individuals

Small Business Majority
Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Small businesses are still struggling to hire and retain a ready workforce, persistent challenges in the wake of the pandemic. A parallel problem for the nation’s labor market cannot be ignored: more than 70 million Americans have a criminal record, reducing their opportunities to contribute to society and earn a living wage. Even a minor criminal record can create a wall of lifelong barriers that prevent gainful employment. 

As a result of being excluded from the labor force, individuals impacted by the justice system are 50% more likely to start their own business and create their own job, highlighting the entrepreneurial nature of those seeking to move past their criminal record. However, justice-impacted individuals face even more obstacles in accessing the capital, resources and professional licenses needed to get their enterprises off the ground. 

This poll, conducted in six states – Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas – found widespread support for for legislative solutions that would remove barriers for justice-impacted individuals by making reforms to occupational licensing and debt-based driver’s license suspensions. These politically diverse small business owners believe these measures would enable employers to tap into an underutilized workforce and open up opportunities for entrepreneurship.

State reports: