Teester, LK has identified the core of the problem in operating a 'legitimate' business, as opposed to, say, being a 'trunk-slamming side jobbing pretender.' )Not that I am saying that you are ... but I suspect the same pricing factors are in play here).
There are a multitude of 'overhead calculators' available, and it's darn near impossible for anyone, anywhere, to operate a business with a 'shop rate' of $40/hr.
"Overhead" is everything from the license, tax burden, truck, tools .... and paying the bills when you're not actually able to bill your time.
To put it another way ... If you work an 8 hr. day, you're lucky if you can bill for 6 of those hours.
In its' most common form, the 'trunk slammer' pays no taxes, makes no insurance payments, and defers maintenance on his truck. The end result is: he goes broke. The trouble is, he goes broke only after teaching lots of customers that $40/hr is a reasonable rate.
Look at it this way: I once was involved with a 'not-for-profit' Delaware corporation. Strict accounting protocols were in place to ensure that this place did not turn a profit - just broke even. Yet, that firm billed it's customers triple the salary of the guys working the job. For your $19/hr guys, that comes to $57.
There's a fair amount of debate as to what work a helper may do, or what work can be performed by guys without 'electrician' cards. Many places have some sort of regulations that are enforced. Otherwise, the only checks are OSHA rules ("qualified employee") and your cost to go back and fix a mistake.
No employer is running a charity. If a man is getting $19/hr ... he's worth it.
After all, I've yet to see someone replace their heart surgeon with a short-order cook, on the theory that both know how to use a knife