Davis-Bacon prevailing wages are determined by the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor by analyzing data compiled from wage surveys returned by contractors, sub-contractors and trade unions for a wide variety of job classifications. The prevailing wage is the wage paid to more than 50 percent of laborers on similar projects in a specific geographical area as per the published Code of Federal Regulations, as of 2015.
In situations when the majority of laborers within a given classification in a given area do not earn the same wage, the Department of Labor then determines the prevailing wage by averaging all of the wages paid and weighing it to the total number of laborers that work within the job classification. Additionally, Davis-Bacon wage determinations may be issued on a per-project basis. Such project-based determinations are issued by the Department of Labor and are effective for 180 days from the date that they are issued.
Wage determinations can be accessed online via the WDOL.gov website. Users can search the site for wage determinations by WD number or by entering the state, county and construction type. Davis-Bacon wage determinations can be suspended by the president of the United States in times of emergency. Such suspensions can be applied nationwide or to limited areas. Since 1931, this presidential prerogative has been exercised four times, as of 2015.