Study: Prevailing wage laws move African-American construction workers toward income equality

By on March 13, 2018

From ConstructionDIVE:  An Illinois Economic Policy Institute study on the effect of prevailing wage laws found that the pay regulations increased take-home pay for African-American construction workers by 24%. In comparison, white construction workers had a 17% increase in net pay, indicating that prevailing wage laws help to close the income gap between African-American and white construction workers.

The institute also found that when prevailing wage laws are in place, African-American, blue-collar construction workers earn an average of 88 cents for every dollar their white counterparts earn. In states without prevailing wage regulations, African-American workers make only 74 cents for every dollar white workers are paid. Also, the income gap between African-American and white laborers is 12% less in states with prevailing wage laws.

The institute conducted the study in part to disputed claims from critics of prevailing wage laws that the regulations have a discriminatory effect on African-American construction workers. To the contrary, the study found that prevailing wage laws did not hinder underprivileged and minority participation in construction and improved all blue-collar incomes, regardless of race.

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