Repealing prevailing wage laws hurts construction workers

Posted March 24, 2017 at 3:21 pm by Ross Eisenbrey and Teresa Kroeger

Though they have protected construction workers’ wages for decades, 20 states have removed prevailing wage laws and several more have weakened them. Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia do not have any prevailing wage laws. Wisconsin no longer applies prevailing wage protections to local public construction projects, but still does for state highway projects. Arkansas and Missouri are currently both debating repeal.

Unsurprisingly, median construction wages are far lower (21.9 percent) in the 20 states that have no prevailing wage law than in the states that still do protect prevailing wages. Even after taking into account cost-of-living differences, median wages are almost 7 percent lower in states where there is no prevailing wage law. If state officials want to hit construction workers in the pocketbook, while folding to business interests, repealing prevailing wage laws is an effective way to do it.

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