Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Labor Market Information Center

About prevailing wages under the Davis-Bacon Act

Enacted in 1931, the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) intended to protect communities and workers from the economic disruption caused by competition arising from non-local contractors coming into an area and obtaining federal construction contracts by underbidding local wage levels. The DBA, as amended, requires that each contract over $2,000 to which the United States or the District of Columbia is a party for the construction, alteration and/or repair (including painting or decorating) of public buildings or public works shall contain a clause setting forth the minimum wages to be paid to various classes of laborers and mechanics employed under the contract.

Under the provisions of the DBA, contractors or their subcontractors are required to pay laborers and mechanics employed directly upon the site of the work no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits paid on projects of a similar character. The DBA directs the U.S. Department of Labor to determine such local prevailing wage rates (wage determinations or WDs). The WDs, also known as "general schedules," are then to be placed in covered contracts by Federal agency contracting officials.

In addition to the DBA itself, Congress has added prevailing wage provisions to approximately 60 statutes which assist construction projects through grants, loans, loan guarantees, and insurance. These "related Acts" involve construction in such areas as transportation, housing, air and water pollution reduction and health.

The geographic scope of the DBA is limited to the 50 States and the District of Columbia. The scope of each related Act is determined by the terms of the particular statute under which the Federal assistance is provided.

For prevailing wage rates under the Davis-Bacon Act, contact the Denver, Colorado regional office of the U.S. Department of Labor at 866.487.9243.