Weather affects more than harvest; fewer workers hired

Bill Shrum

The unusual weather across the country has had an affect on more than just the harvest. The nation’s farmers hired less workers than in 2008 — a 2 percent decrease, to be exact. The Delta region, which consists of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, reported the highest decreases.

Other regions to report decreases included California, the Appalachian I region, which consists of North Carolina and Virginia, and the Southern Plains, which are made up of Oklahoma and Texas.

While decreases in hired workers were reported in the Delta region, the wages paid to said workers were higher, along with states in the Appalachian II region, which is made up of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, and the Northeast II region of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Farm operators as a whole paid their hired workers an average wage of $10.91 per hour in October, up 21 cents from 2008. Field workers received an average of $10.25 per hour, up 20 cents from last October and livestock workers earned an average of $10.23 per hour compared with $10.21 last year.

The Delta region reported 33,000 total workers with 26,000 expected to be hired for 15 hours or more and 7,000 for 149 hours or less. They reported an average of 38 hours per week.

Hourly wages reported in the Delta region were $8.86 for field workers, $9.16 for livestock workers and $8.95 for field and livestock combined.

In October of 2008, 36,000 workers were reported with 26,000 to be hired at 150 hours or more and 10 for 149 hours or less. This represents a total decrease of 3,000 workers from 2008 to 2009.

In October of 2008, hourly wages sat at $8.51 for field workers, $8.83 for livestock workers and $8.60 for livestock and field workers combined. This represents an increase of 35 cents for field workers, 33 cents for livestock workers and 35 cents for combined workers.

These numbers were taken from the November 2009 USDA and National Agricultural Statistics Service?Farm Labor Report, which showed nationally, 1,092,000 farm workers were hired during the week of Oct. 11 through 17.

Of these hired workers, 807,000 were hired directly by farm operators. Agricultural service employees made up the remaining 285,000.

Farm operators paid their workers an average wage of $10.91 per hour. Field workers, livestock workers and field an livestock combined saw a national wage increase across the board.

Daily Leader (Stuttgart, Ark.)