Expanded production of labor-intensive crops increases agricultural employment
Philip L. Martin
California Agriculture 58(1):35-39. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v058n01p35.
The production of labor-intensive fruit, vegetable and horticultural specialty crops increased in the 1990s, as did the employment of farmworkers: average annual employment or roughly the number of year-round equivalent jobs rose about 20%, to almost 400,000. Far more individuals, however, are employed on California farms during the year. Agricultural employers reported 1.1 million individuals (unique Social Security numbers) when they paid unemployment insurance taxes in 2001. We analyzed the jobs and earnings of these farmworkers in 1991, 1996 and 2001. About three individuals were employed for each year-round equivalent job in the 1990s, and there was a shift to farmers hiring workers via farm labor contractors. The findings suggest that it may be possible to employ a smaller total farm workforce, with each worker employed more hours and achieving higher earnings.
A. Khan is Research Program Specialist, Labor Market Information Division, California Employment Development Department (EDD); P. Martin is Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis; P. Hardiman is Research Manager, Labor Market Information Division, EDD. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies of the EDD or the State of California.