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July 2002, Volume 8, Number 3

Employment Training, Data

President Bush proposed the elimination of the National Farmworkers Jobs Program, the old 402/303 training programs that train legally authorized farm workers for higher income and usually nonfarm jobs; the program is now authorized under Section 167 of the Workforce Investment Act. Bush said that regular One-Stop employment and training programs can serve farm workers more efficiently (http://www.doleta.gov/usworkforce/reauthorization/).


The original justification for a federal employment and training program for farm workers was interstate migrancy: many states had residency requirements that may have limited eligibility for services. As interstate migrancy decreased, the rationale shifted, and today rests on the argument that "regular" One-Stop employment and training programs do not know enough about farm workers to serve them.


Under an $81 million federal grant, some 53 nonprofit and public agencies provide employment and training assistance to migrant and seasonal farm workers. In 2000-01, they placed 5,600 workers of the 8,200 farm workers who sought training in nonfarm jobs at an average wage of $8 an hour, and provided some other service, such as transportation, housing, or other assistance, to 15,000 more.


USAFarmworkersPac, representing the agencies, appears to have been successful in restoring funding for farm-worker training programs in Congress (http://www.USAFarmworker.org).


About 25 million youth 16-24 are in the labor force, employed or actively seeking jobs, and half of the youth 16-19 work during the summer. According to DOL data, about 225,000 youth 16-19 worked in agriculture in 2001.


Farm Labor. There were 1.1 million hired workers on US farms during the week of April 7-13, 2002, according to the April 2002 USDA quarterly survey, "Farm Labor"- 82 percent were employed directly by farmers and 18 percent were employed by agricultural service employers. Of the 890,000 workers hired directly, 81 percent were employed by the responding farm employer for 150 days or more; 28 percent of the directly hired workers were in California, followed by eight percent in Oregon-Washington, seven percent in Texas, and six percent in Florida.


According to USDA, 57 percent of field and livestock workers were in FVH crops, 32 percent in livestock and poultry, and 11 percent in field crops. About 70 percent of hired workers were employed on farms with sales of $250,000 or more, and 53 percent were hired on farms that hired 11 or more workers.


Hired workers earned an average of $8.83 an hour in April 2002- field workers averaged $8.06 and livestock workers averaged $8.43- the overall average is so much higher because of the inclusion of supervisors. The Lake states had the highest hourly earnings for field workers- an average of $9.43- and the Appalachian states had the lowest--$6.89; in California, average hourly field earnings were $8.33.


Some 189,000 workers were employed by agricultural service employers, including 49 percent in California and six percent in Florida.




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