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:

Construction Types


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) Nos. 130, 131, and 236: Collectively establish guidelines and provide detailed information regarding the four types of construction (building, residential, highway, heavy) for which  the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) gathers wage rate data and issues wage determinations.
  • AAM Nos. 213 and 233: 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. AAM Nos. 213 and 233 should be read in conjunction with each other.
  • AAM No. 238: FY 2022 Davis-Bacon Survey Plan — This Memorandum is notification from the Wage and Hour Division of its FY 2022 Davis-Bacon Wage Survey Plan. The Memorandum also seeks input from stakeholders concerning survey plans for FY 2023. View AAMs here:
  • AAM No. 242: Fiscal Year 2023 Davis-Bacon Survey Plan — This Memorandum is notification from the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of its FY 2023 Davis-Bacon Wage Survey Plan. The Memorandum also seeks input from stakeholders concerning upcoming survey plans.



The Davis-Bacon Wage Survey Form WD-10 is used to submit data for DBRA wage surveys. When initiating a wage survey, WHD sends out survey participation letters to interested parties and contractors identified as working on projects in the survey area during the designated time frame and directs them to where they can fill out the Davis-Bacon Survey Form. Data may be submitted by any contractors and other interested parties possessing responsive information, regardless of whether they received a survey participation letter directly from WHD.  Submitted survey data is analyzed, clarified, and reviewed by staff in the Branch of Wage Surveys as needed. In order to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data submitted, a verification process is used.

Upon completion of the verification process, and after any necessary changes are made, prevailing wage rates are calculated. WHD calculates the basic hourly rate first, and then calculates any prevailing fringe benefits.

The regulations define the prevailing wage rate as the wage paid to the majority of workers in a classification. If the same wage is not paid to a majority of workers, then the prevailing wage will be the wage paid to the greatest number, provided that such greatest number is at least 30 percent. If no wage is paid to 30 percent or more, then a weighted average is calculated. In determining the fringe benefit component of the prevailing wage, WHD first determines if there is a prevailing practice of paying any fringe benefits at all to workers in the classification. If a majority of workers in the classification are not paid any fringe benefits, then no fringe benefit will be included on the wage determination for that classification. However, if a majority of workers are paid fringe benefits, then the prevailing fringe benefit amount will be calculated in a manner similar to the basic rate calculation: If a majority of the workers who receive fringe benefits receive the same benefit amount, then that amount will prevail. If the same fringe benefit amount is not provided to a majority of such workers, then the amount provided to the greatest number will prevail, provided that the greatest number is at least 30 percent of the workers receiving fringe benefits. If no fringe benefit amount is provided to at least 30 percent of the workers who receive fringe benefits, then a weighted average is calculated.

Wage rates often are calculated and issued on a county basis. If there is insufficient data from within the county to issue a rate for a particular classification of work, then the geographic area used to determine the prevailing wage rate for that classification in the county may be expanded. 29 CFR Part 1.7

There are minimum sufficiency requirements that must be met to publish a classification and wage and fringe benefit rate on a wage determination (WD). If a classification does not appear on a WD, it is because insufficient information was received for that classification during the survey process. Contractor participation in the survey process is critical to receiving sufficient data to publish complete WDs. Once a survey closes, survey results are tabulated on WD-22 (Wage Compilation) and WD-22a (Project Compilation) forms by Wage and Hour Division staff.  After tabulation, survey results are then submitted for publication. The website contains copies of all published wage determinations.

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 Branch of Wage Surveys. If the requestor wishes to appeal a decision made by the Branch of Wage Surveys, 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, or ARB (see 29 CFR Part 7). An explanation of this appeals process is found at the end of every published wage determination.

Conformance Requests

The Wage and Hour Division determines locally prevailing wage and fringe benefit rates through the conduct of wage surveys. 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 a classification of work. When this happens, WHD may establish a rate for that job classification on the wage determination as outlined in 29 CFR 1.3 and 5.5(a)(1).

WHD can add classifications and corresponding wage and fringe benefit rates on wage determinations for frequently recurring classifications; the wage and fringe benefit rates for such “supplemental” classifications will bear a “reasonable relationship” to the prevailing wage and fringe benefit rates contained in the wage determination, using the same criteria under which such classifications and rates are currently conformed by WHD pursuant to 5.5(a)(1)(iii). 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.

CFR 29 Part 5.5(a)(1)(iii) sets the criteria that must be met to obtain a prevailing wage rate for an unlisted classification. See the Conformance Requests page for more information.