Five Reasons Why Prevailing Wage Works in McHenry County

Prevailing wage rates reflect local market conditions in McHenry County.

A new report by ILEPI finds that prevailing wage is the best deal for McHenry County taxpayers.

1. Craft labor costs accost for just 24 percent of total costs on heavy and civil engineering projects in Illinois. Materials, components, supplies, and fuel costs account for the bulk of spending on public projects.

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2. Payroll costs on workers on public construction projects in McHenry County reflect the wages paid in the regional labor market and the higher cost of living in the Chicago area. With 1,600 hours of prevailing wage work– which is typical for construction, which is a seasonal and cyclical industry– a laborer would earn $62,720 in base wages.

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3. Median housing costs are 36 percent of the typical income for a laborer earning the prevailing wage in McHenry County. The median home value in McHenry County is $203,800 and median monthly homeowner costs– which include payments for mortgages, property taxes, insurance, and utilities and fuels– are $1,873. This would exhaust 36 percent of a typical laborer’s take-home income.

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4. Public works construction workers are very productive. Public works projects require skilled workers who complete over 6,400 hours of classroom and on-the-job training. Due to their training, heavy and civil engineering construction workers contribute $164,000 to the Illinois economy per worker, 37 percent more than the average worker in the overall construction industry.

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5. Prevailing wage reflects local market decisions made by private actors. It is not a union wage, but union wages prevail in McHenry County because nonunion contractors are not bidding on public projects. In 2016, union contractors submitted 92 percent of bids and completed 97 percent of all construction work on public projects in the county.

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Prevailing wage is the best deal for McHenry County taxpayers. 75 percent of peer-reviewed studies indicate that construction costs are not affected by prevailing wages. Prevailing wage laws encourage the use of local contractors, promote worker training, and ensure that jobs are completed right, on-time, the first time. Additionally, research shows that prevailing wages increase construction worker incomes, boost consumer spending, and reduce reliance on government assistance programs – generating millions of dollars in state and local tax revenues per year.


Read the Full Report here.

Read this article as a Fact Sheet here.

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