Prevailing Wage Laws in Other States

Most states have prevailing wage laws, as does the federal government, but Michigan’s is one of the most restrictive. Only three other states — Massachusetts, Ohio and New Jersey — have statutes that explicitly call for a minimum wage based on rates found in collective bargaining agreements.[11] A fourth state, New York, has a statute that calls for the use of collectively bargained wages when 30 percent of the local construction work force is unionized, and the state’s practice is generally to presume that this threshold has been met throughout the state.[12]

Other states have statutes that leave state or local officials a fair amount of discretion to set prevailing wage rates, neither defining what constitutes a "prevailing" wage nor calling for the application of collectively bargained rates. Among these states, some, such as Illinois, have customarily used union rates.[13] Other state statutes are more detailed; Tennessee’s prevailing wage statute, for instance, gives a listing of worker classifications to be considered and divides the state into districts for determining prevailing rates.[14] Finally, 17 states, including fast-growing ones like North Carolina, Virginia and Arizona, do not have prevailing wage laws in effect, allowing the market to set wages on state-sponsored construction.[15]