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AEWRs for 2020 average $14 an hour

January 16, 2020

The H-2A program allows farm employers to request certification from DOL to recruit and employ foreign workers to fill seasonal farm jobs, defined as jobs lasting 10 months or less except for sheepherders, who are allowed to remain in the US three years.

DOL certified 257,666 jobs to be filled with H-2A workers in FY19, up 11 percent from FY18. The top five H-2A states, Florida, Georgia, Washington, California, and North Carolina, accounted for over half of the H-2A jobs certified. Two-thirds of H-2A job requests are made between January and June.

The US Department of State issued 196,400 H-2A visas in FY18. Mexicans received 94 percent of H-2A visas, followed by almost three percent for Jamaicans and two percent for Guatemalans.

Farmers applying for H-2A certification must try to recruit US workers and pay H-2A and US workers the higher of the minimum, prevailing, or Adverse Effect Wage Rate. The AEWR is normally the highest of these wages. AEWRs are derived from the USDA-NASS Farm Labor Survey, which collects employment and earnings data from farm employers for the week that includes the 12th of the months of January, April, July, and October.

The national AEWR for 2020 is $14 an hour, up from $13.25 in 2019. The AEWR is the average annual gross wage of nonsupervisory field and livestock workers who were employed during the week that includes the 12th of the month (net wages subtract payroll taxes). The hourly wages of workers who are brought to farms by labor contractors and other nonfarm support services are not included in the Farm Labor Survey or the AEWR.

AEWRs are set by state and multi-state region. The smallest increase in the field and livestock worker wage between 2019 and 2020 was in the Mountain I states of Idaho, Nevada, and Utah, the region that had the highest wage increase between 2018 and 2019. The largest wage increase was in the Cornbelt states of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, where AEWRs rose 10 percent between 2019 and 2020.

Over the decade between 2011 and 2020, the southeastern states and Florida had the smallest increases in AEWRs, 30 percent or less, while the Pacific states of OR and WA saw AEWRs rise 50 percent.

The average US AEWR for 2020 is $14 an hour, up from $13.25 in 2019

The largest AEWR increase between 2019 and 2020 is 10 percent for the Cornbelt I states; the smallest increase is for the Mountain I states

Between 2011 and 2020, AEWRs increased most in the Pacific northwest and least in the southeast and Florida