29 CFR § 4.51 - Prevailing in the locality determinations.

§ 4.51 Prevailing in the locality determinations.

(a) Information considered. The minimum monetary wages and fringe benefits set forth in determinations of the Secretary are based on all available pertinent information as to wage rates and fringe benefits being paid at the time the determination is made. Such information is most frequently derived from area surveys made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, or other Labor Department personnel. Information may also be obtained from Government contracting officers and from other available sources, including employees and their representatives and employers and their associations. The determinations may be based on the wage rates and fringe benefits contained in collective bargaining agreements where they have been determined to prevail in a locality for specified occupational class(es) of employees.

(b) Determination of prevailing rates. Where a single rate is paid to a majority (50 percent or more) of the workers in a class of service employees engaged in similar work in a particular locality, that rate is determined to prevail. The wage rates and fringe benefits in a collective bargaining agreement covering 2,001 janitors in a locality, for example, prevail if it is determined that no more than 4,000 workers are engaged in such janitorial work in that locality. In the case of information developed from surveys, statistical measurements of central tendency such as a median (a point in a distribution of wage rates where 50 percent of the surveyed workers receive that or a higher rate and an equal number receive a lesser rate) or the mean (average) are considered reliable indicators of the prevailing rate. Which of these statistical measurements will be applied in a given case will be determined after a careful analysis of the overall survey, separate classification data, patterns existing between survey periods, and the way the separate classification data interrelate. Use of the median is the general rule. However, the mean (average) rate may be used in situations where, after analysis, it is determined that the median is not a reliable indicator. Examples where the mean may be used include situations where:

(1) The number of workers studied for the job classification constitutes a relatively small sample and the computed median results in an actual rate that is paid to few of the studied workers in the class;

(2) Statistical deviation such as a skewed (bimodal or multimodal) frequency distribution biases the median rate due to large concentrations of workers toward either end of the distribution curve and the computed median results in an actual rate that is paid to few of the studied workers in the class; or

(3) The computed median rate distorts historic wage relationships between job levels within a classification family (i.e., Electronic Technician Classes A, B, and C levels within the Electronic technician classification family), between classifications of different skill levels (i.e., a maintenance electrician as compared with a maintenance carpenter), or, for example, yields a wage movement inconsistent with the pattern shown by the survey overall or with related and/or similarly skilled job classifications.

(c) Slotting wage rates. In some instances, a wage survey for a particular locality may result in insufficient data for one or more job classifications that are required in the performance of a contract. Establishment of a prevailing wage rate for certain such classifications may be accomplished through a “slotting” procedure, such as that used under the Federal pay system. Under this procedure, wage rates are derived for a classification based on a comparison of equivalent or similar job duty and skill characteristics between the classifications studied and those for which no survey data is available. As an example, a wage rate found prevailing for the janitorial classification may be adopted for the classification of mess attendant if the skill and duties attributed to each classification are known to be rated similarly under pay classification schemes. (Both classifications are assigned the same wage grade under the Coordinated Federal Wage System and are paid at the Wage Board grade 2 when hired directly by a Federal agency.)

(d) Due consideration. In making wage and fringe benefit determinations, section 2(a)(5) of the Act requires that due consideration be given to the rates that would be paid by the Federal agency to the various classes of service employees if section 5341 or section 5332 of title 5 U.S.C., were applicable to them. Section 5341 refers to the Wage Board or Coordinated Federal Wage System for “blue collar” workers and section 5332 refers to the General Schedule pay system for “white collar” workers. The term due consideration implies the exercise of discretion on the basis of the facts and circumstances surrounding each determination, recognizing the legislative objective of narrowing the gap between the wage rates and fringe benefits prevailing for service employees and those established for Federal employees. Each wage determination is based on a survey or other information on the wage rates and fringe benefits being paid in a particular locality and also takes into account those wage rates and fringe benefits which would be paid under Federal pay systems.