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How many workers are employed in California agriculture?

  • Author(s): Martin, Philip L
  • Hooker, Brandon
  • Akhtar, Muhammad
  • Stockton, Marc
  • et al.
Abstract

In 2014, the average employment of hired workers in California crop and livestock agriculture, counting all occupations, rose by 10% to 410,900. However, although the state reports the number of jobs on farms regularly, it does not report the number of workers who fill these jobs. We analyzed all Social Security numbers reported by farm employers in 2014 and found two workers for each average or year-round equivalent farm job, making the total number of farmworkers employed in agriculture 829,300, or twice average employment. Approximately 83% of farmworkers had their maximum earnings with an agricultural employer in 2014, and almost 80% of those primary farmworkers were employed by crop support firms (392,000) or fruit and nut farms (154,000). Over 60% of all workers had only one farm employer, followed by 27% with two or more farm employers, and 35% were employed in Kern (116,000), Fresno (96,000) and Monterey (82,000) counties. These data show that California has a remarkably stable farm workforce: most farmworkers are attached to one farm employer, often a labor contractor who moves them from farm to farm.

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