January 12, 2021
The H-2A Program in 2020 and AEWRs
The H-2A program is in the spotlight for several reasons. First, the number of jobs certified and H-2A visas issued reached record highs in FY20 despite high US unemployment rates. DOL certified over 275,400 jobs to be filled with H-2A workers in FY20, and DOS issued over 213,300 H-2A visas. Between 75 and 80 percent of DOL certifications result in H-2A visas.
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FAO: Ag employs 27% of world’s workers, generates 4% of GDP
Agriculture employed a quarter of the world’s workers in 2019. The share of the world’s workers employed in agriculture fell from 1.1 billion or 40 percent of 2.6 billion workers in 2000 to 884 million or 27 percent of 3.3 billion workers in 2019.
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Immigration’s Economic Effects
International labor migration involves people moving across national borders, leaving one country to work in another. There are many reasons for migration, and a major reason is economic, to earn higher wages and enjoy more opportunities for upward mobility.
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Covid in Rural America: 2020
The US had 46 million rural or nonmetro residents in July 2019, unchanged from 2010. All US population growth between 2010 and 2019 was in urban or metro areas. The 16 percent rural poverty rate in 2018 was higher than the 13 percent urban poverty rate.
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HDR 2020: The Age of Humans
The UN’s Development Program has since 1990 issued an annual Human Development Report that explores a particular socioeconomic topic. The purpose of the HDR is to raise “awareness about human development around the world.”
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December 18, 2020
The H-2A Program and AEWRs
The H-2A program expanded in 2020 despite high US unemployment. The US Department of Labor (DOL) reduced the wages that must be paid to H-2A workers in 2021 and 2022, which should encourage faster H-2A expansion.
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MIT: The Work of the Future
An MIT Task Force in November 2020 released a report, The Work of the Future, that emphasized the divergence between rapidly rising US productivity growth and slower US wage growth since 1980. Why did wage growth slow while productivity rose? The report points to weaker unions, a stagnant federal minimum wage, and more free trade agreements, especially with China and Mexico, that put US workers in more direct competition with workers in other countries.
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Alternatives to Hand Labor in Strawberries
The Romans thought that wild strawberries had medicinal properties, and the French developed modern hybrids in the 1750s from wild varieties found in the Americas. China produced 2.7 million tons of strawberries in 2018, followed by the US with 1.2 million tons, Mexico with 590,000 tons, Spain with 344,000 tons, and Poland with 195,000 tons. The leading exporters of fresh strawberries in 2019 were Spain, which exported $678 million worth of fresh strawberries or a quarter of global exports, Mexico, $580 million, the US, $451 million, the Netherlands, $271 million, and Belgium, $186 million.
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Alternatives to Hand Labor in US Melons
Watermelons, cantaloupes, and honeydews are cucurbits, a plant family that includes cucumbers and pumpkins, squash, and zucchini. Most melons are consumed fresh in summer. Melons are over 90 percent water, and the cost of transporting them long distances can equal production costs, especially in summer when there are many fruits and vegetables to transport.
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Federal Labor Law Enforcement in Agriculture
The purpose of labor law enforcement is to ensure that the rights of workers are protected and to level the playing field for employers, so that those who underpay workers or engage in other cost-reducing behavior in violation of labor laws do not gain a competitive advantage over law-abiding employers. The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is the major federal agency that protects the rights of US farm workers and H-2A guest workers.
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