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FARM LABOR
August 26, 1998

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


FLORIDA

    The number of workers paid by farmers and agricultural services totaled 50,000 for the week of July 12 through 18. Farmers hired 45,000 workers compared with 57,000 in April 1998 and 40,000 in July 1997. Agricultural services hired 5,000 compared with 13,000 last quarter and 4,000 a year ago.
    The July 1998 all hired worker wage rate averaged $8.12 per hour, 40 cents or five percent above the $7.72 per
hour paid last quarter, and 48 cents or six percent above the July 1997 wage of $7.64 per hour. Farmers paid an average of $8.08 per hour, 51 cents above the $7.57 paid last quarter, and 48 cents above the $7.60 paid last year. Agricultural services paid workers an average of $8.60 per hour compared with $8.40 paid last quarter and $8.10 paid last year.


UNITED STATES

    There were 1.45 million hired workers on the Nation's farms and ranches the week of July 12-18, 1998, up 3 percent from a year ago. There were 1.07 million workers hired directly by farm operators. Agricultural service employees on farms and ranches made up the remaining 379,000 workers. Migrant workers accounted for 13.7 percent of the July hired workforce compared to 10.8 percent last year.

    Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $7.24 per hour during the July 1998 survey week, up 36 cents from a year earlier. Field workers received an average of $6.78 per hour, up 34 cents from last July. Livestock workers earned $6.91 per hour compared with $6.54 a year earlier. The Field and Livestock worker combined wage rate was up 34 cents from last year.

    Number of hours worked averaged 40.7 hours for hired workers during the survey week compared with 40.9 hours a year ago.

    The largest increases in hired farm workers over last year were in California, Florida, the Mountain I Region (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming), and Hawaii. In California, field activities increased as favorable weather conditions prevailed in most areas. Fieldwork in Florida picked up after much needed rain helped extinguish wild fires. Increased activities, including row crop cultivation, hay baling, irrigating, and equipment preparation for harvest, produced the need for more workers in the Mountain I Region.

    The largest declines in hired farm workers from a year ago occurred in the Southern Plains, Corn Belt I and II, Delta, and Pacific regions. Drought conditions in the Southern Plains and Delta regions was the primary reason for fewer hired farm workers. In the Corn Belt, fewer hired farm workers were needed during the survey week because rapid crop development has placed farmers ahead of schedule. In the Pacific Northwest, hot, dry weather advanced crop maturity, prompting farm operators to use fewer workers in this region.

    Hired farm worker wage rates in most regions were above a year ago. The largest increases generally occurred in the Northeastern and Appalachian Regions. Specialty farms, nursery, and greenhouse operations generally reported the highest wages among farm operators.

    The largest declines in the hired worker wage rates from last year were realized in the Mountain II, Northern Plains, and Southeast regions. Fewer full-time workers reported on the payroll during the survey week contributed to most of the decline in these regions.


Table 1 -- Florida agricultural workers, number of workers, wage
rates, and hours worked, July 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
    July 12 - 18 45 .0 40 .0 5 .0 41 .5 8.08 7.25 6.90
    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
HIRED BY
AGRICULTURAL SERVICES
1998
    July 12 - 18 5 .0 32 .0 8.60
    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/
HIRED BY BOTH FARMERS &
AGRICULTURAL SERVICES
1998
    July 12 - 18 50 .0 8.12
    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
    January 12 - 18 71 .8 7.59
1996
    October 6 - 12 51 .9 7.35
    July 7 - 13 46 .5 2/
1/ Benefits, such as housing and meals, are provided some workers but the values are not included in the wage rates.
2/ Insufficient data.


Table 2 -- Number of workers hired by farmers, wage rates, and hours worked,
selected States, July 12 through 18, 1998, with comparisons 1/
Item Florida California Texas &
Oklahoma
Arizona &
New Mexico
Hawaii United
States 2/
Thousands
All hired workers
        July 12 - 18, 1998 45 298 63 22 8 1,071
        April 12 - 18, 1998 57 194 58 19 7 803
        July 6 - 12, 1997 40 227 82 25 7 1,069
Expected to work
    150 days or more
        July 12 - 18, 1998 40 234 45 16 7 712
        April 12 - 18, 1998 43 147 47 15 6 *618
        July 6 - 12, 1997 36 164 54 17 6 689
     149 days or less
        July 12 - 18, 1998 5 64 18 6 1 359
        April 12 - 18, 1998 14 47 11 4 1 *185
        July 6 - 12, 1997 4 63 28 8 1 380
Dollars per hour 3/
All hired worker wage rate
        July 12 - 18, 1998 8 .08 7 .72 6 .32 6 .65 10 .30 7 .24
        April 12 - 18, 1998 7 .57 7 .87 6 .72 7 .02 10 .43 *7 .49
        July 6 - 12, 1997 7 .60 7 .18 6 .32 6 .99 10 .34 6 .88
Wages by type of worker
    Field & Livestock
        July 12 - 18, 1998 7 .21 7 .19 5 .98 6 .22 8 .91 6 .80
        April 12 - 18, 1998 6 .78 7 .39 6 .25 6 .36 8 .95 7 .00
        July 6 - 12, 1997 6 .69 6 .79 5 .83 6 .29 9 .10 6 .46
     Field
        July 12 - 18, 1998 7 .25 7 .10 5 .98 6 .11 8 .82 6 .78
        April 12 - 18, 1998 6 .75 7 .30 6 .20 6 .32 9 .06 7 .00
        July 6 - 12, 1997 6 .71 6 .74 5 .60 6 .30 9 .11 6 .44
     Livestock
        July 12 - 18, 1998 6 .90 8 .05 5 .98 6 .74 4/ 6 .91
        April 12 - 18, 1998 7 .20 8 .08 6 .29 6 .52 4/ 6 .99
        July 6 - 12, 1997 6 .60 7 .43 6 .17 6 .21 4/ 6 .54
Average hours per week
Hours worked by all hired workers
        July 12 - 18, 1998 41 .5 44 .5 44 .4 47 .7 36 .6 40 .7
        April 12 - 18, 1998 39 .9 42 .7 39 .7 42 .5 35 .2 40 .0
        July 6 - 12, 1997 41 .5 46 .4 44 .3 41 .2 37 .6 40 .9
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 (NASS) during the last two weeks of July 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 NASS list of farms; those not found on the list are included in the labor survey sample to represent all farms. 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 July 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 the number of hired workers generally ranged between 9 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 8 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 14 percent at the regional level.

    Nonsampling errors can occur in a complete census 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 editing, coding, or processing the data. Special efforts are taken at each step of the survey to minimize nonsampling errors.


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