Getting ahead financially isn’t easy. Many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, just trying to keep our heads above water. The opportunity to break into a new job to earn more and provide a better living would mean the world to many families.

But burdensome licenses to work often stand in the way.

Occupational licensing takes a toll on the economy and would-be business owners. Harsh work requirements box out competition so that only established, well-connected competitors make it in certain industries.

But a new study has demonstrated there’s another victim of occupational licensing – the financially challenged.

A report from the Archbridge Institute found that licensing laws could be contributing to joblessness and the ability to break into lower-wage occupations. Archbridge Institute found “growth in the number of low- and moderate-income licensed occupations is associated with a reduction in absolute economic mobility.”

In other words, when the number of licensed professions goes up, economic mobility goes down. Those in the states with the harshest requirements have far fewer opportunities to work in licensed fields and get ahead financially.

Data also shows that millions of Americans are either unemployed or making less than they could because of occupational licensing. Many are unable to afford the licenses associated with certain jobs, so they remain unemployed or work lower-paying jobs.

The Institute for Justice has studied more than 100 of the jobs that require licensing all over the country, looking at how difficult it can be to break into certain industries. On average, it takes a year of education and training to get into a licensed profession.

The fees stack up quickly for licensed work as well. To become a shampooer, it will cost an average of $130. The fees to be a residential carpenter average $319. The average cost to become an interior designer is $1,265!

A year of time and hundreds of dollars in fees is a high price to pay for a job. For many who struggle to pay their rent and provide for their families, that kind of sacrifice just isn’t possible. It limits the potential of people who would otherwise thrive in these industries because they aren’t able to afford the permission slip to work.

A great job can help so many families, but so many barriers stand in the way that many won’t get to experience upward mobility unless policy changes take place.

Read more about opportunities and occupational licensing from Bridge to Wellbeing.