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Rural Migration Blog

July 2021

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).

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Covid Will Accelerate Automation

The covid pandemic encouraged many service firms to substitute technology for people to limit people-to-people contacts, such as using order-taking apps in restaurants. Many of the new technologies proved to be successful, which may reduce employment in hotels and restaurants over time as wages rise and employers have difficulty recruiting and retaining hotel clerks and restaurant staff.

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Labor Law Enforcement: FLSA and NLRA

An analysis of the labor law violations detected by federal investigators concluded that US firms can increase their profits by violating minimum wage and other labor laws because the probability of detection is low and the penalties for violations are small. Labor law enforcement depends on tight labor markets that help workers to reject jobs with employers who violate labor laws and empower worker to file complaints with enforcement agencies.

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USDA Projections to 2030

USDA’s projections of agricultural production and trade during the 2020-30 decade anticipate stable production and prices of field crops such as corn and soybeans, and slightly rising production and prices for milk and meat due to increased demand for these animal products abroad. The US is expected to remain a net exporter of agricultural commodities, but the agricultural trade surplus is projected to decline as fruit and vegetable imports rise faster than exports.

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