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Hired farmworkers lacking authorization are particularly important for some crops

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hired farmworkers make up less than 1 percent of all U.S. wage and salary workers, but play an essential role in U.S. agriculture. In 2012, some 1.1 million hired farmworkers were employed on U.S. farms, according to USDA’s Farm Labor Survey. The U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey provides information about the immigration status of hired crop farmworkers but does not cover the livestock sector, for which no similar data are available. Of those crop workers surveyed between 2007 and 2009, 71 percent were foreign-born (67 percent in Mexico and 4 percent elsewhere). Forty-eight percent of all hired crop workers surveyed, and over 60 percent of those surveyed in the fruits/nuts and vegetable sector, indicated that they were not legally authorized to work in the United States. This chart is based on data from Immigration and the Rural Workforce, in the ERS Newsroom, updated May 2013.

About half of hired crop farmworkers are not legally authorized to work in the United States

Friday, February 15, 2013

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, particularly in labor intensive crops such as fruits, vegetables, and nursery products. The U.S. Department of Labor's National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) is the only national survey that ascertains the legal status of noncitizen farmworkers, but it is limited to hired crop farmworkers and excludes hired livestock farmworkers. Based on NAWS data, the share of hired crop farmworkers who were not legally authorized to work in the U.S. grew from roughly 15 percent in 1989-91 to almost 55 percent in 1999-2001. Since then it has fluctuated around 50 percent: the figure was 48 percent on average for 2007-2009 (the latest data available). This chart is found in the Farm Labor topic on the ERS website, updated February 2013.

Quantity of agricultural laborers in Brazil is on the decline

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Brazilian agricultural sector has shed a significant portion of its labor over the previous 20 years, reflecting a rural-to-urban migration, improved agricultural productivity, increased agricultural output, and a transition to more capital intensive agricultural production. Agricultural labor counts are recorded in Brazil's censuses as either family or hired labor, and each category has declined over the last three census periods. Between 1985 and 2006, hired labor counts declined by 26 percent, as did family labor, which is noteworthy given the large number of family laborers in Brazilian agriculture relative to hired laborers and implies a substantially greater absolute decline in family laborers. In 1985, family and hired labor accounted for 16.7 million and 4.8 million laborers, respectively. By 2006, family labor had fallen to 12.4 million laborers and hired labor to 3.6 million laborers. This chart comes from Policy, Technology, and Efficiency of Brazilian Agriculture, ERR-137, July 2012.

More hired farmworkers are located in metropolitan areas

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hired farmworkers include field crop workers, nursery workers, livestock workers, farmworker supervisors, and hired farm managers. 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. In 2010, the Current Population Survey (conducted by the Census Bureau) estimated average hired farm employment at 755,000. Of these farmworkers, 62 percent work in crop agriculture, and the remaining 38 percent work in livestock. Roughly 37 percent of all hired farmworkers live in the Southwest (defined to include California), and 24 percent live in the West region. Two States--California and Texas--account for more than one-third of all farmworkers. More farmworkers are located in metropolitan areas (59 percent) than in nonmetro counties. In California, 99 percent of farmworkers are located in metro areas, and in Washington State the figure is 95 percent. This chart is from the Farm Labor topic page on the ERS website.

Farm production requires less labor, even as farm output grows over time

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hired and operator labor has trended downward in recent years, even as farm output has increased. By 2007, farming used 30 percent less hired labor and 40 percent less operator (and unpaid) labor than in 1982, while farm output was 35 percent higher than in 1982. About two-thirds of the growth in output per hour of work came from growth in total factor productivity-as farmers adopted technological change, such as biotechnology, improved animal husbandry, improvements in machinery and chemicals, and more efficient farm size/organization. This chart comes from the ERS report, The Changing Organization of U.S. Farming, EIB-88, December 2011.

Real wage rates for farmworkers vs other nonfarm workers

Friday, August 12, 2011

Average hourly earnings of non-supervisory farm laborers stood at $10.22 in 2010, compared to $19.07 for private sector nonsupervisory workers outside of agriculture. In real terms, farm labor wages have risen at about 0.9 percent per year since 1990, compared to 0.6 percent per year for nonfarm nonsupervisory workers. The 2010 wage for farm laborers is comparable to the average wage for maids and housekeepers ($10.17), but lower than the wage for landscaping and groundskeeping workers ($12.23) or for construction laborers ($16.15), according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Statistics program. This chart appeared on the ERS website, in Farm Labor, updated in July 2011.

Farm employment has increased in the last two years

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hired farmworkers include field crop workers, nursery workers, livestock workers, farmworker supervisors, and hired farm managers. The average number of hired farmworkers has steadily declined over the last century, from roughly 3.4 million to just over 1 million. Because the U.S. labor force grew, agricultural employment as a proportion of total employment has declined even more sharply. According to the Farm Labor Survey, the annual average number of people employed as hired farmworkers, including agricultural service workers, decreased from 1,142,000 in 1990 to 1,053,000 in 2010. But, the survey also showed that average farm employment in 2010 was above 2007 levels. Employment is highly seasonal: in January of 2010, there were 802,000 workers, while in July the figure stood at 1,245,000. This chart appeared on the ERS website, in Farm Labor, updated in July 2011.

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