The Biden Labor Department today announced the issuance of the final rule making changes to Davis-Bacon Act labor regulations, ostensibly aimed at helping construction workers on federal construction projects.
Among other things, the new rule gives regulators more leeway in calculating the prevailing wage – the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a geographic area – by switching from a wage survey of half of those workers to just a third.
CEI labor policy expert Sean Higgins explains why this change is less about determining the actual prevailing wage and more about politicizing the process:
“The Biden administration’s decision to turn back the clock on Davis-Bacon Act regulations to a Carter administration-era version will benefit a few well-connected unions while raising costs on taxpayers. The administration’s new rule will allow a survey of just a third of workers to calculate the ‘prevailing wages’ to be used when awarding federal contracts. It only takes a basic understanding of math to know that that 30 percent is not a majority and therefore cannot be said to be ‘prevailing’ in any common understanding of the term. Rather this new rule will allow for cherry-picked statistics that result in wage inflation, driving up the costs of those contracts.”
- Related analysis: CEI’s comment to the Labor Department on the proposed rule