Prevailing wage laws ensure that workers on publicly-funded construction projects are guaranteed baseline pay rates and health care benefits that are comparable to the wages and benefits of similarly-skilled workers in the same geographic region, who perform the same kind of job. Prevailing wage laws also require contractors and sub-contractors on covered projects to keep detailed records of all the workers they hire, what class of job each worker was assigned to perform and his or her hourly rate of pay.
Prevailing wage laws level the playing field for best-practice contractors to bid competitively against low-road companies that would otherwise have incentives to cut project labor costs to the bone in order to make a low-dollar bid. Prevailing wage laws additionally ensure that all workers on state- and federally-funded public works projects have or can afford to purchase health care coverage, which saves uncompensated care costs for the community. Prevailing wage regulations also help construction workers at the lowest end of the pay scale earn enough to get by without needing to rely on public assistance.
Prevailing wages for federally-funded public works projects are regulated under the federal Davis-Bacon Act. The New Hampshire legislature repealed state’s prevailing wage law in the 1980s, and is the only New England state that lacks a prevailing wage requirement for state-funded public works projects.