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Summary of Report

Profile of Hired Farmworkers, 1994 Annual Averages

AER-748, February 1997

Contact: Jack L. Runyan, 202-694-5438.

HIRED FARMWORKERS continue to earn less than all wage and salary workers, but the wage gap has narrowed. The median weekly earnings for hired farmworkers in 1994 were $238, an increase of 19 percent (5 percent when adjusted for inflation) from 1990; median weekly earnings for all wage and salary workers increased by 11 percent (a 2-percent decrease in real terms).

Hired farmworkers were more likely than all U.S. wage and salary workers to be male, Hispanic, younger, less educated, never married, and non-U.S. citizens. Thirty-six percent of hired farmworkers had less than a ninth-grade education, compared with less than 4 percent of all wage and salary workers.

An average of 779,000 persons (15 and older) did hired farmwork each week as their primary job in 1994. Though this represents less than 1 percent of U.S. wage and salary workers, hired farmworkers account for about 30 percent of farmworkers (farm operators and unpaid workers account for the rest). An additional 66,000 persons did hired farmwork as their secondary job during the week.

THIS REPORT EXAMINES regional and structural patterns of farm labor use, and demographic and employment characteristics of hired farmworkers, using data from the 1992 Census of Agriculture and the 1994 Current Population Survey earnings microdata file. Additional findings of the report include:

  • Almost all (98 percent) who reported farmwork as their secondary job worked in other agricultural establishments (agricultural services, forestry, fishing, landscape/horticultural services, etc.) and over half (54 percent) lived in the Midwest. More than 19 percent of the hired farm work force was employed part-time (worked less than 35 hours per week) in 1994. These part-time workers were more likely to be female, white, younger, and never married, compared with full-time farmworkers.

  • The South and West accounted for 75 percent of the hired farmworkers in 1994. The Northeast contained the fewest (about 6 percent).

  • The hired farm work force in the Midwest had more white and fewer Hispanic workers, the West had more Hispanic workers and fewer white, and the South had more black and other workers than other regions.

  • In the West, more of the hired farm work force was employed in crop production and less in livestock production than in other regions. In the Midwest, more of the hired farm work force was employed in livestock production and less in crop production than in other regions.

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