PCEF wage requirements

Information about wage requirements for PCEF grant applicants, including prevailing wages.

Requirements by type of improvement

Creating jobs that provide living wages is a priority of PCEF. By law, payments for work funded by PCEF must be at least 180 percent of the relevant state minimum wage. The requirement applies to people that are paid by the grantee as well as people paid under contracts and subcontracts of the project.

Some projects funded by PCEF are subject to prevailing wage requirements, which sets a higher standard than 180% of minimum wage. The following table summarizes PCEF’s wage requirements for projects of various budgets and scopes. In these tables, the phrase “construction workforce” refers to PCEF projects that will employ workers from construction–related trades. This includes, but is not limited to, workers involved in weatherization, solar installation, new construction, and building retrofits.

Type of PCEF project180% min. wage requiredPrevailing wage required
Projects with no physical improvement or construction workforce (e.g., planning, education, training)YesNo
Projects with physical improvement, but no construction workforce (e.g., farming or tree planting)YesNo
Projects that have physical improvements AND use a construction workforce AND do not have a construction budget exceeding $350k of PCEF funds at any single siteYesNo
Projects that have physical improvement AND use a construction workforce AND have a construction budget that exceeds $350k of PCEF funds at any single site. YesYes

180% state minimum wage

The following table outlines the 180% minimum wage value for the current fiscal year. This minimum wage must be paid to workers on PCEF projects unless the project is subject to prevailing wages.

DatePortland metro minimum wagePCEF minimum wage (180% of Portland metro minimum wage)
July 1, 2023$15.45$27.81

Prevailing wage information

The PCEF Grant Committee made a policy decision to apply state prevailing wage requirements to projects that include $350,000 or more of PCEF funding for construction-related work at a single site (excluding predominantly affordable residential housing). PCEF projects will be subject to this threshold in addition to any state prevailing wage rate requirements.

The information below provides information on Oregon’s prevailing wage rate laws along with a few examples on how they may apply to PCEF projects.

Prevailing wage laws are designed to maintain community-established compensation standards. The prevailing wage rate includes a base hourly wage rate as well as an hourly fringe or benefits rate. It is the combination of these two amounts that must be paid to a worker on a prevailing wage rate (PWR) project. Oregon’s prevailing wage rate law is administered by the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). BOLI determines and updates the non-residential prevailing wage rate annually. For residential construction, BOLI uses the residential prevailing wage rates established by the federal government (also referred to as Davis-Bacon rate).

Oregon prevailing wage law applies when public dollars are used for public works projects including but not limited, to construction, reconstruction, or major renovation that is carried out by, or contracted for, a public agency. Major renovation is defined as remodeling or alteration of existing structures or roads that costs more than $50,000, though prevailing wage applies to the construction or installation on public property of any device, structure or mechanism that uses solar energy even if the project costs less than $50,000. In addition, privately-owned construction projects with greater than $750,000 of total public funds (i.e., inclusive of PCEF and other public funds) are generally subject to PWR as they are likely to fall under the definition of a public works project as defined by Oregon Statute (ORS 279C.800(6)(a) and OAR 839-025-0004(20)(a)). It is important to note that this figure is inclusive of the life of the project including if a project cumulatively receives $750,000 or more in public funds. Read more about prevailing wage law.

PWR law is complicated and it will be important that PCEF grantees connect with BOLI to get formal wage determinations that confirm whether their project is or is not subject to Oregon PWR (distinct from PCEF’s additional requirement).

Below are a few project examples, and whether they are likely subject PWR law. This is not legal advise or a substitute for BOLI determination; the examples are intended to help illustrate where PWR law currently applies and where it does not.

Example projects that would likely be subject to state prevailing wage requirements:

  • Project is a retrofit of a single commercial building with $600,000 in PCEF funds and $200,000 in funds from the State of Oregon. Because the total public funds invested in this single project exceeds $750,000, it is likely that the project meets the definition of a public works project and is subject to PWR.
  • Project is an installation of a green roof on a public school facility with $125,000 of PCEF funds. Because the project is being carried on by a public agency at a public facility and not a private entity, the project is likely subject to PWR since it is greater than the $50,000 PWR exemption threshold.
  • Solar energy installations on public property, regardless of project cost or use of public funds are considered public works projects and subject to PWR.

Example projects that would likely not be subject to state PWR:

  • More than $750,000 in public funding is received by an organization to weatherize many individual single-family homes. Each home weatherization is likely considered a separate project receiving less than $750,000 individually and therefore the project is likely not subject to PWR.
  • Construction projects on a privately-owned residential buildings that predominantly provide affordable housing are exempt from PWR even if there are greater than $750,000 of total public funds invested.