At the height of the Great Depression nearly one-quarter of Americans were unemployed. In response, Congress enacted a series of laws including the Smoot-Hawley Tariffs Act, which raised tariffs on foreign goods in an effort to spur domestic investment and to increase the number of jobs. Sound familiar?
The Davis-Bacon Act
Among the new laws enacted by Congress was the Davis-Bacon Act which required contractors on federal works projects to pay their workers the wages prevailing in the area where a project was located, also known as “prevailing wages,” in an effort to stem the practice of employers bringing in lower-wage workers from outside the area. The same year that the Davis-Bacon Act was enacted, California enacted its own prevailing wage law modeled after the Davis-Bacon Act and applicable to state and local public works projects.