Thursday, April 25, 2024

FTC Bans Noncompetes

FTC (tweet, Hacker News):

Today, the Federal Trade Commission issued a final rule to promote competition by banning noncompetes nationwide, protecting the fundamental freedom of workers to change jobs, increasing innovation, and fostering new business formation.


The FTC estimates that the final rule banning noncompetes will lead to new business formation growing by 2.7% per year, resulting in more than 8,500 additional new businesses created each year. The final rule is expected to result in higher earnings for workers, with estimated earnings increasing for the average worker by an additional $524 per year, and it is expected to lower health care costs by up to $194 billion over the next decade. In addition, the final rule is expected to help drive innovation, leading to an estimated average increase of 17,000 to 29,000 more patents each year for the next 10 years under the final rule.

As with network neutrality, this is probably something the courts or Congress should have handled, but it seems like a good protection for those of us living outside Silicon Valley.

John Gruber:

As I wrote a year ago, I used to think that noncompete agreements (“agreements”?) were mainly a thing in the tech industry. But their use became so rampant that even sandwich shop chains were requiring them.

Gergely Orosz:

Noncompetes are now banned: not just in California (like before), but nationwide. Very, very relevant for anyone at Amazon (which is the Big Tech that has enforced noncompetes even for low-level engineering positions).

Brian Hall:

Some people might know that Amazon sued me after I had left AWS and later went to Google Cloud. I cannot be happier to see the FTC ruling to ban non-competes in the US. “Noncompete clauses violate a 110-year-old law that prohibits unfair methods of competition, the FTC says.”

Mike Masnick:

The FTC has come out with a very good and important policy ruling, but I’m not sure it has the authority to do so. The legal challenge (that was filed basically seconds after the rule came out) could do way more damage not just to some fundamental parts of the administrative state, but to the very underlying policy that the FTC is trying to enact: protecting the rights of workers to switch jobs and not be effectively tied to an employer in modern-day indentured servitude with no realistic ability to leave.

All the way back in 2007, I wrote about how non-competes were the DRM of human capital. They were an artificial manner of restricting a basic freedom, and one that served no real purpose other than to make everything worse. As I discussed in that post, multiple studies done over the previous couple of decades had more or less shown that non-competes are a tremendous drag on innovation, to the point that some argue (strongly, with data) that Silicon Valley would not be Silicon Valley if not for the fact that California has deemed non-competes unenforceable.


The rule is 570 pages long, with much of it trying to make the argument for why the FTC actually has this authority. And all those arguments are going to be put to the test. Very shortly after the new rule dropped (long before anyone could have possibly read the 570 pages), a Texas-based tax services company, Ryan LLC, filed a lawsuit.


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Old Unix Geek

I'm very glad about this. Non competes are a form of legalized slavery as far as I'm concerned.

Good stuff!
Fight the power

It's the end of life in America as we know it

Business will simply not operate there, will invest elsewhere.

Capital will fly. Talent, too. Only desperate migrants will remain.

And so on.

Sorry, someone had to make the case from the opposing side ... :)

Don’t worry Sebby, the Supreme Court will nuke this in a few months, when they overturn the Chevron doctrine, nullifying the ability of all regulatory agencies to make policy decisions.

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