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These U.S. Workers Are Being Paid Like It’s the 1980s

In some parts of America, the Department of Labor hasn’t updated its “prevailing wage” for taxpayer-funded work in decades.
Construction At A Lennar Homes Development Ahead Of New Home Sales Data

Photographer: Mark Elias/Bloomberg

Thanks to a web of loopholes and limits, the federal government has been green-lighting hourly pay of just $7.25 for some construction workers laboring on taxpayer-funded projects, despite decades-old laws that promise them the “prevailing wage.”

Over the past year, the U.S. Department of Labor has formally given approval for contractors to pay $7.25 for specific government-funded projects in six Texas counties, according to letters reviewed by Bloomberg. Those counties are among dozens around the nation where the government-calculated prevailing wage listed for certain work—such as by some carpenters in North Carolina, bulldozer operators in Kansas and cement masons in Nebraska—is just the minimum wage.