Determining Wage Rates
Federally financed or assisted construction projects subject to the Davis-Bacon and related Acts (DBRA) must contain a prevailing wage determination (WD). The wages on the WD are typically determined by surveying ongoing or recently completed construction projects within a geographic area. WHD conducts the surveys of projects under construction or completed during a set survey time frame in an effort to gather specific wage rate data paid to the various classifications of workers found on construction projects. Federal and federally assisted construction work is broken out into four different types of construction for which WHD gathers wage rate data and issues wage determinations:
Includes sheltered enclosures with walk-in access for the purpose of housing, persons, machinery, or supplies
Includes construction, alteration or repair of single family houses or apartment buildings of no more than four stories in height
Includes roads, streets, runways, highways or other similar projects
Is a catch-all grouping that includes projects not properly classified under the other three types of construction
All Agency Memoranda (AAM) 130 and 131 collectively establish guidelines and provide detailed information regarding the four types of construction. WHD gathers wage rate data and issues wage determinations for these four types of construction.
AAM No. 213: Application of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts requirement that wage rates for additional classifications, when “conformed” to an existing wage determination, bear a “reasonable relationship” to the wage rates in that wage determination
For more information on the wage survey process, click here.
Public Inquiries and Requests
All DBRA survey inquiries, general requests, and survey appeals should initially be directed to the WHD Regional Office that conducted the survey. If the requestor wishes to appeal the decision made at the regional office level, then a request for review and reconsideration may be made to the Wage and Hour Administrator (See 29 CFR Part 1.8). If an interested party wishes to appeal the decision of the Administrator, an appeal may be filed with the Administrative Review Board (ARB). (See 29 CFR Part 7.) The ARB's decisions in such appeals are final. An explanation of this appeals process is found at the end of every published wage determination.
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) determines locally prevailing wage and fringe benefit rates through the conduct of wage surveys on government contracts covered by the Davis-Bacon Act. Published wage determinations for each county in the country list the wages and benefits that have been found to be prevailing for each classification of worker for which there is sufficient wage payment data. Data collection for these surveys is dependent upon the voluntary submission of information from contractors and third parties that have performed construction work within the geographic scope of the wage survey. At times, the survey collection efforts will not yield sufficient data to establish a rate for every existing classification of work. When this happens, WHD cannot establish a rate for that job classification on the wage determination.
When a contractor performs work on a DBA-covered contract and the applicable wage determination does not provide a rate for a classification of work to be performed, the needed classification and wage rate must be added in conformance to the contract wage determination. This is the conformance process. Accurate and current wage rates are the cornerstone of the DBA’s protections, and provide the framework around which prevailing wage requirements protect contractors, employees, and local economies. The Wage and Hour Division has been working to improve opportunities for stakeholder participation; to improve outreach before surveys; and to improve the quality of the wage determinations that result.
CFR 29 Part 5.5(a)(ii) sets the criteria that must be met to obtain a rate for an unlisted classification. See the Conformance Requests page for more information.