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FARM LABOR
May 27, 1998

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


FLORIDA

    The number of workers paid by farmers and agricul tural services totaled 70,000 for the week of April 12 through 18. Farmers hired 57,000 workers compared with 51,000 in January 1998 and 60,000 in April 1997. Agricultural services hired 13,000 compared with 16,000 last quarter and 13,000 a year ago. Field preparation for spring planted crops was active during the survey week. Dry conditions allowed vegetable work to progress normally. Valencia harvest for processing was very active. Movement of seedless grapefruit was most active on the lower East Coast.
    The April 1998 all hired worker wage rate averaged $7.72 per hour, 69 cents or nearly nine percent below the $8.41 per hour paid last quarter, but 33 cents or four percent above the April 1997 wage of $7.39 per hour. Farmers paid an average of $7.57 per hour, 65 cents below the $8.22 paid last quarter, but 38 cents above the $7.19 paid last year. Agricultural services paid workers an average of $8.40 per hour compared with $9.20 paid last quarter and $8.44 paid last year.


UNITED STATES

    There were 1,005,000 hired workers on the Nation's farms and ranches the week of April 12-18, 1998, down 1 percent from a year ago. There were 803,000 workers hired directly by farm operators. Agricultural service employees on farms and ranches made up the remaining 202,000 workers. Migrant workers accounted for 6.6 percent of the April hired workforce compared to 6.3 percent last year.

    Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $7.50 per hour during the April 1998 survey week, up 47 cents from a year earlier. Field workers received an average of $7.00 per hour, up 36 cents. Livestock workers earned $6.99 per hour compared with $6.40 a year earlier.

    During the survey week rain continued to delay spring field preparations, and muddy fields delayed the traditional beginning of the corn-planting season across most of the Cornbelt. Strong thunderstorms caused localized flooding and delayed fieldwork in parts of the Southeast. In the Central and Northern Plains, rainfall was considerably lighter, allowing farmers to make substantial progress in their fields. Fieldwork also advanced in the Delta States. The Southern Plains and most of Florida remained dry. Farmers in the Northeast enjoyed dry weather most of the week and made rapid progress preparing fields for planting.
    Weather conditions in California and the Southwest improved slightly, but continued wet soils and unseasonably low temperatures caused delays in planting the cotton crop. Field activities in California gradually resumed during the week as drier conditions and warmer weather prevailed in most areas. Seedbed preparations for planting corn, cotton, and dry beans were slowly increasing as soils dried. Sugar beets were thinned and hand weeded in the San Joaquin Valley while they were harvested in the Imperial Valley. Normal cultural activities continued in orchards and vineyards. Navel orange picking was winding down, while Valencia orange picking gathered momentum. Grapefruit, lemons, and tangerines were also harvested. Vegetable fieldwork increased as fields dried. Spring melon harvest progressed in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys.

    In Texas, land preparation and planting operations were active for most of the week in the Plains. Cultivation and chemical applications occurred in most other areas. Cotton land preparations were mostly complete in the Plains. Produc ers were cultivating fields in the Coastal Bend area. In the Rio Grande Valley, irrigation activity remained steady due to prolonged dry conditions.


Table 1 -- Florida agricultural workers, number of workers, wage
rates, and hours worked, April 12 through 18, 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
    April 12 - 18 57 .0 43 .0 14 .0 39 .9 7.57 6.75 7.20
    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
HIRED BY
AGRICULTURAL SERVICES
1998
    April 12 - 18 13 .0 40 .0 8.40
    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
HIRED BY BOTH FARMERS &
AGRICULTURAL SERVICES
1998
    April 12 - 18 70 .0 7.72
    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
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, April 12 through 18, 1998, with comparisons 1/
Item Florida
California
Texas &
Oklahoma
Arizona &
New Mexico
Hawaii United
States 2/
Thousands
All hired workers
        April 12 - 18, 1998 57 194 58 19 7 803
        January 11 - 17, 1998 51 180 52 17 7 661
        April 6 - 12, 1997 60 171 55 16 6 *808
Expected to work
    150 days or more
        April 12 - 18, 1998 43 147 47 15 6 619
        January 11 - 17, 1998 41 136 44 15 6 528
        April 6- 12, 1997 52 147 44 14 5 *654
     149 days or less
        April 12 - 18, 1998 14 47 11 4 1 184
        January 11 - 17, 1998 10 44 8 2 1 133
        April 6 - 12, 1997 8 24 11 2 1 154
Dollars per hour 3/
All hired worker wage rate
        April 12 - 18, 1998 7 .57 7 .87 6 .72 7 .02 10 .43 7 .50
        January 11 - 17, 1998 8 .22 7 .38 7 .04 7 .34 10 .24 7 .61
        April 6 - 12, 1998 7 .19 7 .35 5 .98 6 .24 9 .98 *7 .03
Wages by type of worker
    Field & Livestock
        April 12 - 18, 1998 6 .78 7 .39 6 .25 6 .36 8 .95 7 .00
        January 11 - 17, 1998 7 .49 6 .85 6 .61 6 .63 8 .84 6 .98
        April 6 - 12, 1997 6 .49 6 .99 5 .57 5 .81 8 .82 *6 .57

     Field
        April 12 - 18, 1998 6 .75 7 .30 6 .20 6 .32 9 .06 7 .00
        January 11 - 17, 1998 7 .45 6 .62 6 .59 6 .63 8 .88 6 .99
        April 6 - 12, 1997 6 .51 6 .90 5 .37 5 .78 8 .81 6 .64

     Livestock
        April 12 - 18, 1998 7 .20 8 .08 6 .29 6 .52 4/ 6 .99
        January 11 - 17, 1998 8 .00 8 .36 6 .65 6 .61 4/ 6 .97
        April 6 - 12, 1997 6 .30 8 .06 5 .78 5 .90 4/ 6 .40
Average hours per week
Hours worked by all hired workers
        April 12 - 18, 1998 39 .9 42 .7 39 .7 42 .5 35 .2 40 .0
        January 11 - 17, 1998 38 .3 38 .9 38 .5 42 .0 35 .3 36 .6
        April 6 - 12, 1997 41 .0 45 .1 40 .6 43 .2 37 .6 *40 .4
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 April 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 April 12 - 18, 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 3.3 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 0.8 percent. The relative sampling error was 0.8 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 5 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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