How Prevailing Wage Rates Are Developed And Which to Use

Wage rates come from collective bargaining agreements and surveys

How are prevailing wage rates established?

  1. L&I adopts the prevailing wage rates that unions and employers establish in collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), made up of the hourly wage, benefits and overtime for a trade and occupation. For a trade and occupation with more than one CBA in a county, L&I adopts the higher rate.
  2. L&I will survey trades and occupations for which there are no CBAs in a county. Learn more about the wage-and-hour survey process.

How often are prevailing wage rates updated?

Prevailing wage rates are updated the first business day in August and February and take effect 30 days after publication. The updates adjust the rates due to changes in a CBA, results of wage-and-hour surveys, and changes to the minimum wages.

What date do I use to decide the effective prevailing wage rate(s)?

The effective date for prevailing wage rate(s) is the date the prime contractor’s bid is due, or if the contract is not awarded within six months of the bid due date, then use the contract award date. Subcontractors will use the same effective date as the prime contractor. Use the effective date in the look up wage rates page.

Are there exceptions to the effective date?


  • Janitorial contracts require annual wage updates after the initial effective date.
  • Job Order Contracts use the issue date of each work order. Public Utility Districts (PUD) unit-priced contracts use the issue date of each work order.
  • Cities and port districts unit-priced contracts use the beginning date for each contract year.
  • For the construction phase effective date, General Contractor/Construction Manager (GC/CM) uses the date of the Maximum Allowable Construction Cost (MACC) negotiated agreement. The pre-construction, design contract award date is used for any construction work that precedes the MACC.
  • Design-Build uses the award date of the construction contract.

Upcoming surveys

L&I has started a survey to establish prevailing wage rates for Residential Construction trades. Learn more at the Residential Construction survey page.

Contact Information

Mailing Address

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
Prevailing Wage Section
PO Box 44540
Olympia, WA 98504-4540


7273 Linderson Way SW
Tumwater, WA 98501