Hired Workers Down, Wage Rates Up

Published in the January 2012 Issue Published online: Jan 17, 2012

There were 1,186,000 hired workers on the nation's farms and ranches during the week of July 10-16-down 5 percent from a year ago. Of these hired workers, 836,000 were hired directly by farm operators. Agricultural service employees on farms and ranches made up the remaining 350,000 workers.

The largest decreases in the number of hired workers from last year occurred in California and in the Pacific (Oregon and Washington), Northern Plains (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota), and Corn Belt I (Illinois, Indiana and Ohio) regions. In California and in the Pacific region, the wet spring and cooler than normal summer temperatures delayed crop development, reducing the demand for hired workers. Above normal temperatures, heavy rains and high winds in the Northern Plains and Corn Belt I regions discouraged crop progress and slowed field activity.

The largest increases in the number of hired workers from last year occurred in the Lake (Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin) and Appalachian II (Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia) regions and in Florida. Drier conditions this year allowed fieldwork to progress rapidly, increasing the demand for hired workers. Recent rains in Florida improved crop growth which led to heightened activity on farms, causing more hired workers to be necessary.

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