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The Wall Street Journal highlights a study by Clemson University economists Peter Blair and Bobby Chung which purports to show that occupational licenses, which legally permit workers to do certain jobs like barbering or pest control, reduce income inequality between men and women and between whites and African Americans.

According to the report, occupations that require licensing see a decline in wage inequality between men and women between 36% and 40%, and a decrease between black men and white men of 43%.

Why it matters: Occupational licensing has been criticised by both Democrats and Republicans as unnecessary barriers erected by vested interests to keep new entrants out of the market, which reduce employment and raise prices. But Blair and Chung argue that they also enable workers who are discriminated against an opportunity to signal their competence to prospective employers.

Go deeper

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Clean trucks are paving the road to the electric vehicle era

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The electric vehicle revolution is underway, led by the un-sexiest of plug-in models: the commercial truck.

Why it matters: Growing demand for cleaner trucks means 2021 will be a pivotal year for electric vehicles — just not the kind you might have expected.

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The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.