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FARM LABOR
February 24, 1998

USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service   |  1222 Woodward Street   |  Orlando, Florida 32803   |  407 / 648-6013

FLORIDA

    The number of workers hired by farmers and agricul tural services totaled 67,000 for the week of January 11 through 17. Farmers hired 51,000 workers compared with 45,000 in October 1997 and 56,000 in January 1997. Agricul tural services hired 16,000 compared with 5,700 last quarter and 15,800 a year ago. Late-week rain fell in all Florida citrus areas and slowed some harvest crews. Wet fields continued to delay some field preparations for spring vegetable planting.

    The January 1998 all hired worker wage rate averaged $8.41 per hour, 62 cents or eight percent above the $7.79 per hour paid last quarter, and 82 cents or eleven percent above the January 1997 wage of $7.59 per hour. Farmers paid an average of $8.22 per hour, 47 cents above the $7.75 paid last quarter, and 77 cents above the $7.45 paid last year. Agricul tural services paid workers an average of $9.20 per hour compared with $8.29 paid last quarter and $8.05 paid last year.

UNITED STATES

    There were 802,000 hired workers on the Nation's farms and ranches during the week of January 11-17, 1998, up 6 percent from a year ago. There were 661,000 workers hired directly by farm operators. Agricultural service employees on farms and ranches made up the remaining 141,000 workers. Migrant workers accounted for 7.3 percent of the January hired workforce compared to 9.5 percent last year.

    Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $7.61 per hour during the January 1998 survey week, up 41 cents or 6 percent from a year earlier. Field workers received an average of $6.99 per hour, up 39 cents. Livestock workers earned $6.97 per hour compared with $6.52 a year earlier.

    During the survey week of January 11-17, 1998, mild temperatures prevailed over most of the United States, except for early-week bitterly cold temperatures along the Northern Plains. New England farmers, especially dairymen, worked extended hours to recover from the previous week's severe ice storm. Field activities along the Pacific Coast were hampered again this week by an onslaught of storms bringing snow, ice, and rain. In northern California, over 4 inches of rain fell in many locations, halting fieldwork. However, spring vegetable crop seedbed preparation and planting continued where weather and soils permitted. The storms tracked eastward, bringing precipitation into the central and northern Rocky Mountains States.

     Limited precipitation fell in the Plains and Corn Belt. High winds sapped soil moisture in some parts of the southern Plains, but most areas still have ample moisture supplies. On the Texas High Plains, adequate moisture from previous rainfall and mild temperatures prompted good winter wheat growth, and most fields provided excellent grazing. In the Southeast, wet weather continued as storms again brought precipitation to the region, especially in eastern Louisiana.


Table 1 -- Florida agricultural workers, number of workers, wage
rates, and hours worked, January 11 through 17, 1998, with comparisons
Employer, Year, and
survey week
Hired by farm operators    
Number of workers Hours
Worked
Per
Week
Wages Paid by Type of Work
All Expected to work All Field Livestock
150 days
or more
149 days
or less
HIRED BY FARMERS Thousands Hours Dollars Per Hour 1/
1998
    January 11 - 17 51 .0 41 .0 10 .0 38 .3 8 .22 7 .45 8 .00
1997
    October 12 - 18 *45 .0 41 .0 *4 .0 *39 .9 7 .75 7 .10 *7 .65
    July 6 - 12 40 .0 36 .0 4 .0 41 .5 7 .60 6 .71 6 .60
    April 6 - 12 60 .0 52 .0 8 .0 41 .0 7 .19 *6 .51 6 .30
    January 12 - 18 *56 .0 *46 .0 *10 .0 *35 .7 *7 .45 6 .80 6 .80
1996
    October 6 - 12 45 .0 40 .0 5 .0 37 .0 7 .35 6 .31 6 .65
    July 7 - 13 43 .0 38 .0 5 .0 37 .7 7 .39 6 .45 7 .10
    April 7 - 13 50 .0 43 .0 7 .0 38 .5 7 .05 6 .12 7 .10
    January 7 - 13 47 .0 40 .0 7 .0 39 .0 7 .35 6 .80 6 .80
HIRED BY
AGRICULTURAL SERVICES

1998
    January 11 - 17 16 .0 30 .0 9 .20
1997
    October 12-18 5 .7 27 .2 8 .29
    July 6 - 12 4 .0 39 .5 8 .10
    April 6 - 12 13 .0 36 .0 8 .44
    January 12 - 18 15 .8 37 .0 8 .05
1996
    October 6 - 12 7 .0 24 .0 7 .30
    July 7 - 13 3 .5 43 .5 2/
    April 7 - 13 10 .0 31 .5 7 .68
    January 7 - 13 14 .8 33 .0 8 .35
HIRED BY BOTH FARMERS &
AGRICULTURAL SERVICES

1998
    January 11 - 17 67 .0 8 .41
1997
    October 12 - 18 *50 .7 7 .79
    July 6 - 12 44 .0 7 .64
    April 6 - 12 73 .0 7 .39
    January 12 - 18 *71 .8 *7 .59
1996
    October 6 - 12 51 .9 7 .35
    July 7 - 13 46 .5 2/
    April 7 - 13 60 .0 7 .14
    January 7 - 13 61 .8 7 .62
1/ Benefits, such as housing and meals, are provided some workers but the values are not included in the wage rates.
2/ Insufficient data.
* Revised.


Table 2 -- Number of workers hired by farmers, wage rates, and hours worked,
selected States, January 11 through 17, 1998, with comparisons 1/
Item Florida
California
Texas &
Oklahoma
Arizona &
New Mexico
Hawaii United
States 2/
Thousands
All hired workers
        January 11 - 17, 1998 51 180 52 17 7 661
        October 12 - 18, 1997 *45 220 66 20 8 *1,004
        January 12 - 18, 1997 *56 137 47 15 7 *624
Expected to work
    150 days or more
        January 11 - 17, 1998 41 136 44 15 6 528
        October 12 - 18, 1997 41 145 45 16 7 648
        January 12 - 18, 1997 *46 109 38 13 6 *525
     149 days or less
        January 11 - 17, 1998 10 44 8 2 1 133
        October 12 - 18, 1997 *4 75 21 4 1 *356
        January 12 - 18, 1997 *10 28 9 2 1 *99
Dollars per hour 3/
All hired worker wage rate
        January 11 - 17, 1998 8 .22 7 .38 7 .04 7 .34 10 .24 7 .61
        October 12 - 18, 1997 7 .75 7 .55 6 .70 6 .85 9 .98 7 .31
        January 12 - 18, 1997 *7 .45 7 .10 *6 .12 *6 .37 10 .32 *7 .20
Wages by type of worker
    Field & Livestock
        January 11 - 17, 1998 7 .49 6 .85 6 .61 6 .63 8 .84 6 .98
        October 12 - 18, 1997 *7 .19 7 .13 6 .41 6 .25 8 .55 6 .91
        January 12 - 18, 1997 6 .80 6 .25 5 .81 *5 .85 8 .87 6 .57

     Field
        January 11 - 17, 1998 7 .45 6 .62 6 .59 6 .63 8 .88 6 .99
        October 12 - 18, 1997 7 .10 7 .06 6 .10 6 .17 8 .49 6 .94
        January 12 - 18, 1997     6 .80 6 .04 5 .56 5 .82 8 .85 6 .60

     Livestock
        January 11 - 17, 1998 8 .00 8 .36 6 .65 6 .61 4/ 6 .97
        October 12 - 18, 1997 *7 .65 7 .84 6 .73 6 .66 4/ 6 .80
        January 12 - 18, 1997 6 .80 7 .50 5 .97 5 .90 4/ 6 .52
Average hours per week
Hours worked by all hired workers
        January 11 - 17, 1998 38 .3 38 .9 38 .5 42 .0 35 .3 36 .6
        October 12- 18, 1997 *39 .9 45 .6 38 .8 41 .5 36 .4 40 .9
        January 12 - 18, 1997 *35 .7 34 .0 38 .5 42 .6 35 .5 *36 .6
1/ Excludes Agricultural Service workers.
2/ United States excludes Alaska.
3/ Value of any perquisites provided are not included in wage rates.
4/ Insufficient data for this category; included in all hired wages.
*Revised.


SURVEY PROCEDURES

    These data were collected by the National Agricultural Statistics Service during the last two weeks of January using sampling procedures to ensure every employer of agricultural workers had a chance of being selected.

    Two samples of farm operators are selected. First, NASS maintains a list of farms that hire farm workers. Farms on this list are classified by size and type. Those expected to employ large numbers of workers are selected with greater frequency than those hiring few or no workers. A second sample consists of segments of land scientifically selected from an area sampling frame. Each June, highly trained interviewers locate each selected land segment and identify every farm operating land within the sample segment's boundaries. The names of farms found in these area segments are matched against the list of farms; those not found on the list are included in the labor survey sample to represent all farms not on the NASS list. This methodology is known as multiple frame sampling, with an area sample used to measure the incompleteness of the list. Additionally, a list of agricultural service firms was sampled in California and Florida. The survey reference week was January 11-17, 1998.

RELIABILITY


    Two types of errors, sampling and nonsampling, are possible in an estimate based on a sample survey. Both types affect the "precision" of the estimates.

    Sampling error occurs because a complete census is not taken. The sampling error measures the variation in estimates from the average of all possible samples. An estimate of 100 with a sampling error of 1 would mean that chances are 19 out of 20 that the estimates from all possible samples averaged together would be between 98 and 102; which is the survey estimate, plus or minus two times the sampling error. The sampling error expressed as a percent of the estimate is called the relative sampling error. The relative sampling error for number of hired workers at the U.S. level was 4.8 percent. The relative sampling error for number of hired workers generally ranged between 10 and 20 percent at the regional

level. The U.S. all hired farm worker wage rate had a relative sampling error of 1.3 percent. The relative sampling error was 1.3 percent for the combined field and livestock worker wage
rate. Relative sampling errors for the all hired farm worker wage rate generally ranged between 2 and 6 percent at the regional levels. Relative sampling errors for wage rates published by type of farm and economic class of farm ranged between 2 and 7 percent at the regional level.

    Nonsampling errors can occur in complete censuses as well as in sample surveys. They are caused by the inability to obtain correct information from each operation sampled, differences in interpreting questions or definitions, and mistakes in coding or processing the data. Special efforts are taken at each step of the survey to minimize nonsampling errors.


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