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About Migration Dialogue

Migration Dialogue provides timely, factual and nonpartisan information and analysis of international migration issues through five major activities: the newsletters Migration News and Rural Migration News, Changing Face and other Research & Seminars, and the Sloan West Coast Program on Science and Engineering Workers.

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Rural Migration Blog: California: FLC Employment Down and Wages Up in 2020

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.

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  • Rural Migration News

    Rural Migration News summarizes the most important migration-related issues affecting agricultural and rural America, and is produced with the support of the Colcom, Giannini, and Walmart foundations.

  • Rural Migration News Blogs

    Rural Migration News blogs examine a particular farm labor, migration, or trade issue, and are produced with the support of the Colcom, Giannini, and Walmart foundations.

  • Farm Labor and Mexican Produce Exports

    The US imports over half of its fresh fruit and a third of its fresh vegetables, mostly from Mexico. This project, led by the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute and supported by the Walmart foundations, strengthens protections for Mexican workers employed throughout North America agriculture and works with stakeholders to implement evidence-based policies that improve worker protections.

  • Migration News

    Migration News was a monthly and later quarterly summary of the most important migration issues in the US, Europe, and Asia that was produced between 1994 and 2014 with the support of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

  • Sloan West Coast Program On S&E Workers

    The Sloan Program on Science and Engineering Workers supported researchers interested in how affected US workers employed in IT-related occupations between 2007 and 2014 with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

  • Changing Face & UFW Contracts

    The Changing Face project assessed the effects of immigrant farm workers on agriculture and agricultural communities in California and other states between 1994 and 2016 with the support of the Farm and Rosenberg Foundations.

  • Research & Seminars

    Migration Dialogue organized seminars for opinion leaders to discuss comparative migration issues between 1993 and 2004 with the support of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.