Not long ago, Wisconsin proposed repealing its prevailing wage law, hoping to save money. Actually, however, this measure will cost the state nearly 9,000 jobs, $1.2 billion in revenue, $77 million in tax revenue, and will export around $500 million in construction investments out of state according to a study done by Smart Cities Prevail and Colorado State University. This study’s data shows that repealing the prevailing wage law will have no effect on the cost of these projects. What it will do is it will reduce productivity of workers and get rid of thousands of jobs in the state. With the prevailing wage law currently in place, the state enjoys a 7% increase in worker productivity and a 2% decrease in material and fuel usage because the workers are highly skilled. These increases make the money the state would save by repealing the prevailing wage, null and void since labor accounts for a mere 20% of any public works project.
Additionally, Michigan is currently burdened with the same decision according to a study based on U.S. Census data and the results could be catastrophic. Picture it… the loss of 11,000 jobs, $1.7 billion in state GDP, and $700 million in new construction investment moving out of state. Research shows that workers in prevailing wage states are anywhere from 11-30% more productive than in states that do not have prevailing wage laws. Governor Rick Snyder is against this bill but a new petition could allow this decision to bypass him anyway by driving citizen initiated legislation. There is also a huge domino effect from this repeal as non-prevailing wage states often use more out of state contractors. The cold hard truth is prevailing wage is a good thing for everyone. By using highly skilled, drug-tested workers on construction sites jobs can be done quickly and correctly with less waste.