Harvest season underway in earnest

Russ Endres drives a grain truck in a field off Highway 113 north of Dane in 2018.

A total of 66,000 workers were hired directly by farms in the Lake Region (Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) during the reference week of July 7-13, 2019, according to the latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Agricultural Statistics Service – Farm Labor Report.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage rate of $15.05 per hour, up $0.56 from July 2018. The number of hours worked averaged 40.5 for hired workers during the reference week, compared with 39.3 hours in July 2017.

During the reference week of Oct. 6-12 2019, there were 68,000 workers hired directly by farms in the Lake Region (Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage rate of $15.64 per hour during the October 2019 reference week, up $0.50 from October 2018. The number of hours worked averaged 41 for hired workers during the reference week, down from 37.8 hours in October 2018.

U.S. Labor

There were 809,000 workers hired directly by farm operators on the Nation’s farms and ranches during the week of October 6-12, 2019, up 3 percent from the October 2018 reference week.

Workers hired directly by farm operators numbered 802,000 during the week of July 7-13, 2019, down 5 percent from the July 2018 reference week.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average gross wage of $15.02 per hour during the October 2019 reference week, up 4 percent from the October 2018 reference week. Field workers received an average of $14.38 per hour, up 5 percent.

Livestock workers earned $13.77 per hour, up 3 percent. The field and livestock worker combined gross wage rate, at $14.21 per hour, was up 4 percent from the 2018 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 42.5 hours during the October 2019 reference week, up 2 percent from the hours worked during the October 2018 reference week.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average gross wage of $14.91 per hour during the July 2019 reference week, up 4 percent from the July 2018 reference week. Field workers received an average of $14.19 per hour, up 4 percent, while livestock workers earned $13.79 per hour, up 4 percent from a year earlier.

The field and livestock worker combined gross wage rate, at $14.08 per hour, was up 4 percent from the July 2018 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 41.7 hours during the July 2019 reference week, up 1 percent from the hours worked during the July 2018 reference week.

The 2019 all hired worker annual average gross wage rate was $14.91 per hour, up 5 percent from the 2018 annual average gross wage rate. The 2019 field worker annual average gross wage rate was $14.11 per hour, up 6 percent from the 2018 annual average.

The 2019 livestock worker annual average gross wage rate was $13.74 per hour. The 2019 annual average combined gross wage for field and livestock workers was $13.99, up 6 percent from the 2018 annual average of $13.25 per hour.

October Reference Week

For the October 2018 reference week, only the Lake (Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) region saw a small increase in the number of hired workers from the 2018 reference week, with around 3 percent more workers on the region’s farms.

The largest percentage decreases in the number of hired workers from the 2018 reference week occurred in the Cornbelt I (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio) and Southern Plains (Oklahoma, Texas). The South Plains region saw the biggest decline, with workers down 8 percent from the 2018 reference week.

The largest percentage increases in average wage rates for all hired workers occurred in the Northeast I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire), Mountain II (Colorado, Nevada, and Utah), and Mountain III (Arizona and New Mexico) regions.

July Reference Week

For the July 2018 reference week, the largest percentage increases in the number of hired workers from the 2017 reference week occurred in the Northeast I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire) and Mountain I (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming) regions.

The Northeast I region saw the largest increase, with 6 percent more workers on the region’s farms.

The largest percentage decreases in the number of hired workers from the 2018 reference week occurred in the Southern Plains Oklahoma, Texas), Northern Plains (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota) and Cornbelt I (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio) regions. The Southern Plains region saw the biggest decline, with workers down 25 percent from the 2018 reference week.

The largest percentage increases in average wage rates for all hired workers occurred in the Northeast I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire) and Cornbelt II (Iowa, Missouri) regions.

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