US: Rising wages point to tighter farm labor market

In recent years, farmers, growers, and ranchers throughout the United States have expressed concerns about the challenges of hiring an adequate number of qualified farmworkers at an economically viable wage.

A prominent indicator of a tighter farm labor market in the United States is the rising real (inflation-adjusted) wage for farmworkers. Between 2014 and 2018, the average hourly real wage for nonsupervisory hired farmworkers (in 2018 dollars) rose from $12.00 to $13.25, an increase of 10.4 percent. This increase in the real wage for farm labor is the fastest experienced over a 4-year period during the past two decades.

Moreover, growth in farmworker wages was faster than growth in nonfarm wages. From 2014 to 2018, the hourly real wage for all nonsupervisory production workers outside agriculture rose from $21.90 to $22.97 (in 2018 dollars), an increase of 3.5 percent. Meanwhile, the farm wage rose from 54.8 percent of the nonfarm wage in 2014 to 58.5 percent in 2018.

This chart is updated with newly released 2018 data and appears in the February 2019 Amber Waves Finding, “Rising Wages Point to a Tighter Farm Labor Market in the United States.”


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