Hired farmworkers make up less than 1 percent of all U.S. wage and salary workers, but they play an essential role in U.S. agriculture. Wages, salaries, and contract labor expenses represent roughly 17 percent of total variable farm costs and as much as 40 percent of costs in labor-intensive crops such as fruit, vegetables, and nursery products. ERS conducts research on a range of farm labor issues, including:

For a summary of recent findings and longer-term trends, see Hired Farm Labor Held Steady in Great Recession, in the December 2011 issue of Amber Waves.