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Average employment in California crop agriculture rose eight percent from 2001 to 2020, from 345,000 to 372,000. However, direct-hire crop employment (NAICS 111) fell by 15 percent to 160,000, while crop support employment (1151) rose by 35 percent to 212,000. Crop support firms include custom harvesters and farm management companies, but the largest crop support sector is farm labor contractors (115115).
Average crop support employment surpassed direct-hire employment on crop farms in 2007. The gap has been widening, so that almost 60 percent of employment on California crop farms is crop support and 40 percent is direct hire. FLCs account for two-thirds of crop support employment, giving them average employment of 143,000 in 2020, down 8,000 from 151,000 in 2019. FLCs served as the major shock absorber for covid, accounting for over half of the total 15,000 reduction in average employment in California agriculture between 2019 and 2020.
CA average crop support employment surpassed direct-hire crop employment in 2007; FLCs account for 2/3 of crop support employment
The average weekly wages of directly hired California crop workers were $800 in 2020, versus $695 for crop support workers and $585 for FLC employees. Many crop farms hire equipment operators, irrigators, and other skilled and semi-skilled workers directly, and rely on workers brought to farms by crop support firms for shorter-season tasks such as pruning, weeding, and harvesting.