Government on Workers’ Side

How State and Local Policymakers and Advocates Can Raise Standards for Publicly Supported Work

State and local policymakers can raise standards for workers and the public through prevailing wages, project labor agreements, and several other best practices.

State and local governments support millions of jobs across the U.S. economy, spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year to purchase goods and services and spur economic development. Yet jobs created through government spending often pay very low wages, have poor working conditions, or do little to ensure that local residents benefit. Poor-quality jobs not only hurt workers but also undermine the quality of public goods and services, undercut the stability of local labor markets, and often result in hidden costs for the public.

Thanks to historic and unprecedented federal investment—through the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and the CHIPS and Science Act—now is the time for policymakers and advocates to improve existing job standards on publicly supported work. The federal government is providing state and local applicants with billions of dollars in competitive funding to support investment in physical, digital, water, and clean energy infrastructure and is preferencing applicants with a demonstrated capacity to create good jobs that benefit workers from all walks of life. In addition, many progressive state and local governments are at the forefront of innovative policies to improve the lives of working people in their communities by raising standards for government spending that funds jobs across all sectors, including service jobs that too often pay low wages.

The above excerpt was originally published in the Center for American Progress. Click here to view the full article.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Karla Walter

Senior Fellow, Inclusive Economy


A subway train pulls into the Flushing Avenue station in Brooklyn.

Inclusive Economy

We are focused on building an inclusive economy by expanding worker power, investing in families, and advancing a social compact that encourages sustainable and equitable growth.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.