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COA Farm Labor Expenditures 2017
September 9, 2019
The Census of Agriculture collects data from farm employers on their expenditures for (1) directly hired labor, including employer payroll taxes and the cost of any employer-provided benefits, and (2) contract labor expenses, which are wages paid as well as contractor payroll taxes, work-related benefits, and other contractor expenses and profits.
US Table 4 reports that a fourth of the two million US farms, some 513,100, had $31.6 billion in farm labor expenses for directly hired workers, and 195,800 farms (often the same farms that had expenses for direct hires) reported $7.6 billion in contract labor expenses (another 428,000 farms reported $7.6 billion in custom work and hauling expenses). Direct-hire and contract farm labor expenses were $39.2 billion.
State data Table 3 reports direct hire and contract labor expenses by state. Eight states had total labor expenses of $1 billion or more, led by CA with $10.8 billion, WA with $2.4 billion, TX with $2 billion, FL with $1.8 billion, OR with $1.2 billion, and WI, NC, and MI with $1.1 billion each. These eight states accounted for 55 percent of total farm labor expenses.
Another 14 states had total farm labor expenses of $600 million to $1 billion; each of these states accounted for about two percent of US farm labor expenses. Many of these states were in the midwest, including IA, IL and NR, the east, including NY and PA, or the west, AZ and ID.
Another 17 states had total farm labor expenses between $230 million and $500 million, with each accounting for one percent of US farm labor expenses. They were led by KY and VA and included the Dakotas, TN and NJ, and AL and SC. A final 11 states had total farm labor expenses of under $200 million each, and included CT and MA as well as AK and RI.
In the 2012 COA, there were only four states with farm labor expenses over $1 billion, CA, TX, WA. and FL, and they collectively accounted for 44 percent of farm labor expenses.
Four states increased their share of US farm labor expenses between 2012 and 2017. by more than 0.1 percent, WA, MI, MO, and IA. In three states, the share of US farm labor expenses fell more than 0.1 percent between 2012 and 2017, HI, TX, and FL.
The top 10 farm labor states accounted for 60 percent of total farm labor expenses in both 2017 and 2012. All of the top 10 states maintained their shares of US farm labor expenses, but Florida’s expenses were stable at $1.8 billion.