Return to the Table of Contents for Publications
FARM LABOR
February 23, 1999

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 67,000 for the week of January 10 through 16. Farmers hired 55,000 workers compared with 47,000 in October 1998 and 51,000 in January 1998. Agricultural services hired 12,000 compared with 6,000 last quarter and 16,000 a year ago. Citrus boxes harvested during the survey week fell two percent below a year ago. Vegetable shipments during the survey week were almost a fourth higher than the amount shipped a year ago.

    The January 1999 all hired worker wage rate averaged $8.29 per hour, 45 cents or six percent above the $7.84 per hour paid last quarter, but four cents or one percent lower than the $8.33 per hour paid last year. Farmers paid an average of $8.25 per hour, 43 cents above the $7.82 paid last quarter, and three cents higher than the $8.22 paid last year. Agricultural services paid workers an average of $8.50 per hour compared with $8.05 paid last quarter and $8.80 paid last year.

UNITED STATES

    There were 844,000 hired workers on the Nation's farms and ranches the week of January 10-16, 1999, up 5 percent from a year ago. There were 689,000 workers hired directly by farm operators. Agricultural service employees on farms and ranches made up the remaining 155,000 workers. Migrant workers accounted for 5.7 percent of the January hired workforce compared to 7.3 percent last year.

    Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage rate of $7.90 per hour during the January 1999 survey week, up 29 cents from a year earlier. Field workers received an average of $7.21 per hour, up 22 cents from last January. Livestock workers earned $7.31 per hour compared with $6.97 a year earlier. The Field and Livestock worker combined wage rate was up 26 cents from last year.

    Number of hours worked averaged 37.9 hours for hired workers during the survey week compared with 36.6 hours a year ago.

    The largest increases in number of hired farm workers over last year occurred in the Appalachian I (North Carolina and Virginia), Northeast II (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), Pacific (Oregon and Washington) and California regions. In the Appalachian I region, milder weather gave farm workers more time for land preparation, general farm maintenance, and tending to livestock during the survey week. Additional nursery and greenhouse activities contributed to the Northeast II region's increase in hired farm workers over last year. Orchard pruning, Christmas tree replanting, and hothouse harvest activities were underway in the Pacific region. In California, dry weather aided vegetable harvest throughout the State and permitted normal pruning and fertilizing activities in vineyards and non-citrus fruit orchards. Citrus growers in the San Joaquin Valley continued to assess freeze damage while picking in southern California citrus groves, not affected by the freeze, remained active.

    The largest declines in number of hired farm workers from a year ago were in the Corn Belt II (Iowa and Missouri), Northern Plains (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas), and Mountain I (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming) regions. Drier, cooler weather coupled with fewer storms in the Corn Belt II region helped reduce farm work activity which would normally be spent opening roads and repairing assets usually affected by bad weather. In the Northern Plains region, mild, breezy conditions prevailed in most areas. Most farm activity reported for the week was general farm maintenance and tending to livestock. Milder temperatures in the Mountain I region led to fewer workers being needed to tend to livestock during the survey week.

    Hired farm worker wage rates in most regions were above a year ago. The largest increases occurred in the Appalachian I, Corn Belt II, and Mountain II (Colorado, Nevada, and Utah) regions. The higher wage rates in the Appalachian I and Mountain II regions were generally attributable to more maintenance and machinery work done on farms this year.

    Regions showing the largest declines in hired worker wage rates from last year were Mountain III (Arizona and New Mexico), and Pacific. Milder temperatures in these regions allowed farmers to hire more seasonal workers in advance of regular springtime fieldwork.


Table 1 -- Florida agricultural workers, number of workers, wage
rates, and hours worked, January 10 - 16, 1999, 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/
1999
    January 10 - 16 55.0 48.0 7.0 38.7 8.25 7.35 7.00
1998
    October 11 - 17 47.0 42.0 5.0 43.0 7.82 7.10 7.30
    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
HIRED BY
AGRICULTURAL SERVICES
1999
    January 10 - 16 12.0 35.0 8.50
1998
    October 11 - 17 *6.0 30.0 *8.05
    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 *8.80
1997
    October 12-18 6.0 27.0 8.30
    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
HIRED BY BOTH FARMERS &
AGRICULTURAL SERVICES
1999
    January 10 - 16 67.0 8.29
1998
    October 11 - 17 *53.0 *7.84
    July 12 - 18 50.0 8.12
    April 12 - 18 70.0 7.72
    January 11 - 17 67.0 *8.33
1997
    October 12 - 18 51.0 7.80
    July 6 - 12 44.0 7.64
    January 12 - 18 71.8 7.59
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 10 - 16, 1999, with comparisons 1/
Item Florida
California
Texas &
Oklahoma
Arizona &
New Mexico
Hawaii United
States 2/
Thousands
All hired
workers
      January 10 - 16, 1999 55 224 48 16 7 689
      October 11 - 17, 1998 47 312 53 25 8 983
      January 11 - 17, 1998 51 180 52 17 7 661
Expected
to work
  150 days or less
      January 10 - 16, 1999 48 182 39 15 6 559
      October 11 - 17, 1998 42 242 37 21 7 696
      January 11 - 17, 1998 41 136 44 15 6 528
   149 days or less
      January 10 - 16, 1999 7 42 9 1 1 130
      October 11 - 17, 1998 5 70 16 4 1 287
      January 11 - 17, 1998 10 44 8 2 1 133
Dollars per hour 3/
All hired
worker wage rate
      January 10 - 16, 1999 8 .25 7 .88 6 .93 7 .18 10 .80 7 .90
      October 11 - 17, 1998 7 .82 7 .75 6 .77 7 .00 10 .65 7 .60
      January 11 - 17, 1998 8 .22 7 .38 7 .04 7 .34 10 .24 7 .61
Wages by
type of worker
  Field & Livestock
      January 10 - 16, 1999 7.32 7.22 6.53 6.75 9.35 7.24
      October 11 - 17, 1998 7.13 7.34 6.28 6.52 9.17 7.17
      January 11 - 17, 1998 7.49 6.85 6.61 6.63 8.84 6.98
   Field
      January 10 - 16, 1999 7.35 7.08 6.49 6.66 9.38 7.21
      October 11 - 17, 1998 7.10 7.29 6.14 6.55 9.20 7.15
      January 11 - 17, 1998 7.45 6.62 6.59 6.63 8.88 6.99
   Livestock
      January 10 - 16, 1999 7.00 8.40 6.58 7.06 4/ 7.31
      October 11 - 17, 1998 7.30 7.99 6.58 6.33 4/ 7.28
      January 11 - 17, 1998 8.00 8.36 6.65 6.61 4/ 6.97
Average hours per week
Hours worked by
all hired workers
      January 10 - 16, 1999 38.7 41.1 38.4 43.4 36.7 37.9
      October 11 - 17, 1998 43.0 47.7 39.0 46.8 36.6 42.7
      January 11 - 17, 1998 38.3 38.9 38.5 42.0 35.3 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.


RELIABILITY OF FARM LABOR ESTIMATES

Survey Procedures: These data were collected by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) 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 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 January 10-16, 1999. The survey in California was jointly conducted with the California Employment Development Department.

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 5.2 percent. The relative sampling error for the number of hired workers generally ranged between 11 and 27 percent at the regional level. The U.S. all hired farm worker wage rate had a relative sampling error of 1.1 percent. The relative sampling error was 1.0 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 11 percent at the regional levels. Relative sampling errors for wage rates published by type of farm and economic class of farm ranged between 3 and 22 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.

Revision Policy: Farm labor information is subject to revision the next time the information is published or the year after the original publication date. The basis for revision must be supported by additional data that directly affect the level of the estimate. Worker numbers and wage rates for January 1998 and October 1998 were subject to revision with this report. Revisions were made and previous data are reprinted in this report for your information.



Return to the Table of Contents for Publications