A summary paragraph from the new ERS publication on farmworkers:
What Did the Study Find?
• In 2006, an average 1.01 million hired farmworkers made up a third of the estimated 3 million people employed in agriculture. The other 2.05 million included self-employed farmers and their unpaid family members.
• Productivity gains have gradually reduced the total agricultural labor force and the number of hired farmworkers within it.
• Expanding nonfarm economic opportunities for farmers and their family members have increased farmers’ reliance on hired farm labor.
• Despite new patterns of Hispanic population settlement in rural areas, the geographic distribution of farmworkers has not changed significantly in the past decade. California, Florida, Texas, Washington, Oregon, and North Carolina account for half of all hired and contracted farmworkers.
• Hired farmworkers are disadvantaged in the labor market relative to most other U.S. wage and salary workers. On average, hired farmworkers are younger, less educated, more likely to be foreign-born, less likely to speak English, and less likely to be U.S. citizens or to have a legally authorized work permit.
• According to the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS), which offers the most precise data available on farmworker legal status, half of all hired crop farmworkers lack legal authorization to work in the United States.