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Rural Migration Blog

Big 5 ag sectors pay most farm wages, led by crop support services

November 27, 2017

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) collects employment and earnings data on workers covered by Unemployment Insurance, which means practically all farm workers in states such as California and Washington and 81 percent of US farm workers. QCEW data on farm workers are available by detailed commodity, and are released soon after employers pay UI taxes on their workers’ wages.

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Farm wage and salary jobs expected to be stable at 1.5 million; Hired workers are two thirds of average employment in agriculture

November 27, 2017

DOL released labor force projections for 2016-26 that forecast the US labor force expanding by a million a year, from 159 million in 2016 to 170 million in 2026. About 61 percent of the 278 million US residents 16 and older are expected to be employed or looking for work in 2026, down from the peak labor force participation rate of 67 percent in the late 1990s. The median age of workers, now 42, is projected to rise slightly.

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US Fruit and Vegetable Imports and Farm Workers

November 27, 2017

The US has exported more farm commodities than it imported since 1960. The agricultural trade surplus is expected to be $24 billion in 2017, down from over $40 billion in 2011 and 2014 but up from less than $5 billion in 2005 and 2006.

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What would happen without immigrant farm workers?

November 27, 2017

About 70 percent of US farm workers were born abroad, and 70 percent of these foreign-born farm workers are unauthorized, making half of the US farm workforce unauthorized. What would happen if unauthorized farm workers were removed from the US?

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H-2A Jobs Certified top 200,000; H-2C

November 27, 2017

The number of H-2A jobs certified by the US Department of Labor to be filled with guest workers was 200,049 in FY17, up over 20 percent from 165,000 in FY16. Five states accounted for 52 percent of all jobs certified; FL 13 percent, GA 12, percent, NC, 10 percent, WA, nine percent, and CA eight percent.

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The Expanding H-2A Program

October 16, 2017

The H-2A program has since 1987 allowed farmers anticipating too few farm workers to apply for certification to employ guest workers. The H-2 program was created in the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act and modified by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Between the 1950s and the 1990s, most H-2/A workers were Jamaicans who hand cut sugar cane in Florida and picked apples along the eastern seaboard.

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Farmer Adjustments to Fewer Unauthorized: 4 S’s

October 16, 2017

There has been a slowdown in unauthorized Mexico-US migration since the 2008-09 recession. After peaking at 12 million in 2007, the number of unauthorized foreigners fell nine percent to 11 million in 2014. The number of unauthorized workers has been stable at about eight million or five percent of US workers, and the unauthorized share of crop farm workers has been stable at 50 percent.

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Why don’t Americans apply for $30,000 a year farm jobs?

October 16, 2017

The Los Angeles Times asked recently why Americans do not apply for $30,000 a year farm jobs. Reporters profiled vineyard managers in Napa and Sonoma counties offering $15 an hour jobs to workers in Stockton, 75 miles away.

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FVH Agriculture

October 16, 2017

There are two major agricultural sectors, crops and animal products, and each accounted for about half of US farm sales of $375 billion in 2015, when crops were worth $190 billion and animal products $185 billion. Most US states mirror this 50-50 split between crop and livestock agriculture, but not California, a state where crops predominate. California has been the leading farm state since 1950 because of its production of high-value fruit and vegetable crops. California’s farm sales of $54 billion in 2014 included $39 billion worth of crops, making crops 72 percent of the state’s farm sales.

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US Agriculture and Labor

October 16, 2017

Agriculture is the production of food and fiber on farms, and serves as the keystone of the larger food system that includes input industries such as seed, fertilizer and equipment firms and the output sector that packs, processes, and distributes food and fiber to consumers in the US and abroad, including via grocery stores and restaurants. Relatively few food-system jobs are on farms, about a sixth, while two-thirds are in food services and restaurants.

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