Attacks On Prevailing Wage Laws Disproportionally Hurt Veterans

Media Contact: Doug Gordon (202) 494-5141 |

Report Finds That As Hundreds Of Thousands Of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Enter Work Force, Prevailing Wage Greatly Improves Economic Outcomes For Veterans


first-of-its-kind study released on May 10, 2016 finds that prevailing wage greatly improves economic outcomes for veterans and that growing attacks on prevailing wage at the state level will disproportionally hurt the hundreds of thousands post-9/11 veterans who are returning to the workforce.

Exploring of the economic impact of state prevailing wage laws on veterans in the construction industry, the study was commissioned by VoteVets, the largest progressive group of veterans in America. The study was conducted by Frank Manzo IV of the Illinois Economic Policy InstituteUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Professor Robert Bruno, and Colorado State University-Pueblo Economist, Dr. Kevin Duncan.

“The data clearly shows that veterans work in the skilled construction trades at significantly higher rates than non-veterans,” said Manzo. “The difference is even more pronounced in states with average or strong prevailing wage policies–so any changes in these laws will have an outsized impact on those who have served in the military.”

Click Here to Download the Full Report.

Click Here to Download a Summary of the Report.

With construction now the second-fastest growing industry in America, the military is helping active duty service personnel prepare for civilian careers through the US Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP)—which now accounts for almost 22% of all registered apprenticeships in the country.

The study found that prevailing wage laws not only encourage more veterans to put these skills to work in their communities, but that they pull thousands of veterans out of poverty each year in the process.

Utilizing industry standard economic modeling, it also found that if each of the states with average or strong prevailing wage laws enacted repeals, 24,000 veterans would lose their health insurance, another 65,000 would leave the construction workforce, veteran construction workers would see their incomes drop by $3.1 billion per year, and nearly 8,000 veteran owned construction businesses would shut their doors.

With prevailing wage laws coming under attack in at least 11 states over the past two years, VoteVets has announced that it will be begin airing ads to educate the public about the importance of these standards, and hold lawmakers accountable.  The campaign will begin in Illinois, where Governor Bruce Rauner had proposed repeal at the local level as part of his “Turnaround Agenda.”

“It is appalling to see so many politicians who profess to ‘support veterans’ actively fighting to cut their wages,” said VoteVets Chairman Jon Soltz. “Prevailing wage laws help more veterans translate battlefield skills into middle class careers in their communities.  With too many post 9/11 veterans struggling to find work, we need to be strengthening these laws, not weakening them.”

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