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April 2011 Volume 17 Number 2
QCEW Data, MEP
QCEW. The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (www.bls.gov/cew) provides detailed data on workers covered by Unemployment Insurance. In 2009, some nine million establishments paid $5.9 trillion in wages to 127 million employees, including 8.7 million private-sector establishments with 107 million employees (the others were federal, state, and local employees). The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 92 percent of wage and salary farm workers are included, that is, 1.1 million of 1.2 million.<< back
The QCEW data reported an average 95,000 agricultural establishments with an average 1.1 million employees paid a total of $30 billion, $500 a week. About 45 percent of the establishments, 46 percent of average employees, and 43 percent of wages were paid by crop farms. There were almost 11,000 fruit and nut establishments with an average 183,000 employees paid an average $405 a week; 9,000 greenhouse and nursery establishments with an average 150,000 employees paid an average $505 a week; and 4,200 vegetable and melon establishments with an average 95,000 employees paid an average $485 a week.
There were 22,500 livestock establishments with an average 226,000 employees paid an average $565 a week. About 6,800 were dairies that had an average 86,000 employees paid an average $520 a week, that is, dairies were 30 percent of livestock establishments, accounted for 38 percent of average livestock employment, and paid 35 percent of livestock wages.
There were about 15,000 agricultural support establishments. Two-thirds provided support for crop production, and these 10,100 establishments included 2,200 farm labor contractors. Crop support establishments, which also include cotton gins, custom planters and harvesters, and farm management services, employed an average 278,000 employees and paid $6.3 billion in wages in 2009, an average $430 a week. FLCs employed an average 150,000 employees and paid $2.4 billion in wages in 2009, an average $315 a week.
Adding the average 530,000 employees hired directly by crop farmers and the 278,000 brought to crop farms by support establishments suggests average total crop employment of 808,000, with a third of this employment provided by support establishments and almost 20 percent provided by FLCs. However, employees brought to farms by support establishments (including FLCs) earn significantly less per week than employees hired directly.
QCEW data are available by commodity, state, and sometimes county. For example, the 378 strawberry (NAICS 111333) establishments in California reported an average 27,211 workers in 2009, and average weekly earnings of $392. The number of strawberry establishments was stable, but employment peaked at 38,200 in June, when average weekly earnings were $421.
Almost 90 percent of average strawberry employment was in four counties, including almost 40 percent in Ventura county, where 84 strawberry establishments hired an average 10,200 workers and paid an average $394 weekly wage; the 91 strawberry establishments in Santa Barbara county hired an average 5,200 workers and paid an average $359 weekly wage. The 65 strawberry establishments in Santa Cruz county hired an average 4,750 workers and paid an average $427 weekly wage, while the 85 strawberry establishments in Monterey county hired an average 4,000 workers and paid an average $408 weekly wage.
MEP. The Migrant Education Program received $394 million in FY11 to provide supplemental education services to about 600,000 children in K-12 schools, including a third in California. The New York Times on March 12, 2011 profiled a MEP teacher in east Salinas, noting that a third of the children were identified as eligible for MEP services. The share of MEP-eligible children has been falling as fewer parents cross school district lines in search of farm work, which is the requirement that must be met to receive federal funds to provide supplemental educational services to their children.
The MEP is unique among federal assistance programs for migrant and seasonal farm workers and their children in providing funds to school districts rather than NGOs who provide most health care, Head Start, and job training and housing services, and in providing funds on the basis of eligible children identified in a state and school district rather than eligible children served. As fewer parents migrate, the definition of MSFW child eligible for services has been modified so that children of workers who move to find jobs in high-turnover nonfarm industries related to agriculture, such as food processing and meatpacking, can also be eligible for MEP services.