Wages For H-2B Workers Set Lower Than The Prevailing Wage

Source: Denice Velez, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, August 13, 2008

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) sets the wage that must be offered to U.S. workers before employers can request temporary immigrant workers under the H-2B visa program. By law, the H-2B wage must be high enough so as not to adversely affect the wages of similarly employed U.S. workers, and so DOL regulations require employers to pay these immigrants the area’s prevailing wage.

However, examination of seven of the occupations most commonly filled by H-2B workers, including construction and grounds maintenance, in 15* states in 2007 shows that in almost every case, H-2B certified wages were lower than the prevailing wage reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 64% of cases, the DOL-certified wage fell below 75% of the mean hourly wage.

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