CA-ag-workers-webBy Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer
There are twice as many farm workers in California than statistics showed in 2014, a recently released study demonstrates, indicating a remarkably stable rural workforce.
Researchers with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources studied the state’s job numbers in 2014, and found that the number of hired workers in crop and livestock agriculture did not represent the number of workers who actually fill these jobs. The numbers that year showed that employment had risen 10 percent to 410,900. By analyzing all Social Security numbers reported by farm employers, however, the researchers found two workers for each average or year-round equivalent farm job, making the total number of farmworkers 829,300, or twice average employment.
“Approximately 83% of farmworkers had their maximum earnings with an agricultural employer in 2014, and almost 80% of those primary farmworkers were employed by crop support firms (392,000) or fruit and nut farms (154,000),” say the researchers. “Over 60% of all workers had only one farm employer, followed by 27% with two or more farm employers, and 35% were employed in Kern (116,000), Fresno (96,000) and Monterey (82,000) counties.”
The study is significant in light of national immigration policies, increased production of labor-intensive crops and tightening border controls. Farm employers argue that they are short of farm labor, while worker advocates say higher wages would attract and retain farm workers.
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