• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Center information
 Abstract
 Background
 The National Agricultural Workers...
 Demographics
 Labor market characteristics
 Employment duration
 Compensation methods and rates
 References
 Tables






Group Title: Policy Brief Series - International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center. University of Florida ; no. 6-02
Title: U.S. farm labor market post-IRCA : an assessment of employment patterns, farm worker earnings and legal status
CITATION PDF VIEWER THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00089780/00001
 Material Information
Title: U.S. farm labor market post-IRCA : an assessment of employment patterns, farm worker earnings and legal status
Series Title: Policy Brief Series - International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center. University of Florida ; no. 6-02
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Walters, Lurleen M.
Iwai, Nobuyuki
Napasintuwong, Orachos
Emerson, Robert D.
Publisher: International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00089780
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:

PBTC_06-02 ( PDF )


Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
    Center information
        Page ii
    Abstract
        Page 1
    Background
        Page 2
    The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) data
        Page 3
    Demographics
        Page 4
    Labor market characteristics
        Page 5
    Employment duration
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Compensation methods and rates
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    References
        Page 13
    Tables
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
Full Text

PBTC 6-02




I ional Agricultural Trade and Policy Center


POLICY BRIEF SERIES


'V


UNIVERSITY OF
= FLORIDA
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences


The U.S. Farm Labor Market Post-IRCA: An Assessment of
Employment Patterns, Farm Worker Earnings and Legal Status


By: Lurleen M. Walters, Nobuyuki Iwai,
Orachos Napasintuwong, and Robert D. Emerson

PBTC 6-02 February 2006









INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE AND POLICY CENTER


THE INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE AND POLICY CENTER
(IATPC)

The International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center (IATPC) was established in 1990
in the Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida
(UF). The mission of the Center is to conduct a multi-disciplinary research, education and
outreach program with a major focus on issues that influence competitiveness of specialty
crop agriculture in support of consumers, industry, resource owners and policy makers.
The Center facilitates collaborative research, education and outreach programs across
colleges of the university, with other universities and with state, national and
international organizations. The Center's objectives are to:

* Serve as the University-wide focal point for research on international trade,
domestic and foreign legal and policy issues influencing specialty crop agriculture.
* Support initiatives that enable a better understanding of state, U.S. and international
policy issues impacting the competitiveness of specialty crops locally, nationally,
and internationally.
* Serve as a nation-wide resource for research on public policy issues concerning
specialty crops.
* Disseminate research results to, and interact with, policymakers; research, business,
industry, and resource groups; and state, federal, and international agencies to
facilitate the policy debate on specialty crop issues.










The U.S. Farm Labor Market Post-IRCA: An Assessment of Employment
Patterns, Farm Worker Earnings and Legal Status


Lurleen M. Walters
International Agricultural Trade & Policy Center
Food and Resource Economics Department
P.O. Box 110240, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
lwalters@ufl.edu

Orachos Napasintuwong
Department of Agricultural and Resource
Economics
Faculty of Economics, Kasetsart University
Bangkok 10900 Thailand
Orachos.NkLu ac tll
formerly
International Agricultural Trade & Policy Center
Food and Resource Economics Department
University of Florida


Nobuyuki Iwai
International Agricultural Trade & Policy Center
Food and Resource Economics Department
PO Box 110240, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
niwai@ufl.edu

Robert D. Emerson
International Agricultural Trade & Policy Center
Food and Resource Economics Department
PO Box 110240, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
remersona),ufl.edu


Abstract


Immigration reform may significantly impact the specialty crops sector since more than half of
the workforce is foreign-born and undocumented. Based on data from the National Agricultural Workers
Survey, the trends pertaining to workers' legal status, employment and wage rates in the U.S. and Florida
farm labor markets are examined.

Keywords: Immigration reform, legal status, specialty crops, employment, wage rates.

JEL Code: J430




Selected Paper prepared for presentation at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual
Meeting, Orlando, Florida, February 5-8, 2006.

Copyright 2005 by Lurleen M. Walters, Orachos '1, \i n, I I I, i Robert D. Emerson and Nobuyuki Iwai.
All rights reserved. Readers may make verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial purposes by
any means, provided that this copyright notice appears on all such copies.











The U.S. Farm Labor Market Post-IRCA: An Assessment of Employment
Patterns, Farm Worker Earnings and Legal Status*


Background

U.S. immigration policy has long been intertwined with the labor needs of the U.S. agricultural

industry (Levine, 2004). This is particularly evident in the specialty crop sector where growers are the

largest users of hired and contract workers on a per-farm basis (Oliveira et al. 1993) due to the heavy

reliance on manual labor for seasonal tasks. Employers have hired a largely immigrant workforce in

recent years, of which more than half of all workers lack the required authorization for U.S. employment.

According to the 2002 National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) Report, unauthorized workers

comprised 53 percent of the U.S. crop workforce a slight decrease from 2000 when an estimated 55

percent of the workforce was unauthorized (Carroll et al. 2005). Comprehensive immigration reform was

last undertaken via the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, a major objective of which

was to discourage the use of unauthorized labor by U.S. employers. Employer sanctions, a supplemental

guest worker program, modification of the H-2 program and legalization of unauthorized workers were

the key measures that were mandated by IRCA. Approximately 1.3 million unauthorized workers were

granted legal status under the Special Agricultural Worker (SAW) program that was specific to

agriculture.

There is considerable evidence however, which suggests that IRCA has not been as effective as

lawmakers had intended since illegal immigration has increased rather than decreased since IRCA's

passage, and there has been no significant decrease in the employment of unauthorized workers in the

agricultural sector in particular. Consequently, there has been renewed national interest in immigration



* The authors are grateful to Susan Gabbard, Trish Hemandez, Alberto Sandoval and their associates at Aguirre
International for assistance with the NAWS data, and to Daniel Carroll at the U.S. Department of Labor for granting
access and authorization to use the NAWS data. This research has been supported through a partnership agreement
with the Risk Management Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture; by the Center for International Business
Education and Research at the University of Florida; and by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. The
authors alone are responsible for any views expressed in the paper.










reform; recent proposals to the U.S. Congress have included recommendations for various combinations

of increased border and interior enforcement, legalization programs and guest worker programs. In light

of these developments, agricultural employers are concerned that labor availability and cost may be

affected if the supply of unauthorized immigrant labor is restricted', and that the subsequent wage

increases may lead to significant crop losses in the short-run.

Given this overall context, the aim of this paper is to assess how the U.S. and Florida farm labor

markets have evolved since IRCA's passage. We utilize all available data from the National Agricultural

Workers Survey (NAWS) for 1989 to 2004, and evaluate summary statistics on employment duration and

wage patterns, payment methods and employment levels by employer type and the tasks to which workers

are assigned. The legal status of the workforce is central to the discussion and the participation of

unauthorized workers is a key area of interest.

The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) Data

The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) is an employment-based, random survey of

the demographic and employment characteristics of the U.S. crop labor force. It pertains to mostly field

workers in perishable crops such as fruits and vegetables, nursery crops, field crops and cash grains. The

survey is conducted annually in three cycles to reflect the seasonality of agricultural production and

employment, and uses site-area sampling to obtain a nationally representative cross-section. The number

of interviews within a cycle is proportionate to the amount of seasonal agricultural service activity at the

time of year.

In this paper, our findings are based on a national sample of 42,104 workers and a Florida sub-

sample of 5,082 workers for 1989 through 2004. Florida is singled out for comparison as a major

producer of specialty crops, and with high labor intensity relative to the rest of the United States.

According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, hired and contract labor expenditures as percentages of

production expenditures were 10.7 percent and 2 percent, respectively, for the U.S. agricultural sector,


1 Authorized workers, such as those on guest worker permits, may also be affected if new legislation is somewhat
more restrictive in scope.










whereas Florida had hired and contract labor expenditures that were 24.4 percent and 8.9 percent,

respectively, of overall production expenditure. The data analysis is organized into two categories:

demographics and labor market characteristics. The demographics section constructs a brief profile of the

average farm worker employed in the U.S. and Florida labor markets between 1989 and 2004, whereas

the labor market characteristics section summarizes employment duration and levels, wage patterns and

payment methods by employer type and the tasks to which workers are assigned at the time of the

interview over the sample period. The findings are interpreted in the context of distinctions between

authorized and unauthorized farm workers to better understand what particular aspects of agriculture may

be most affected under alternative immigration reform legislation, and to the extent possible, results for

Florida are contrasted with the U.S. Throughout the study, 'authorized' denotes workers who were either

citizens, permanent residents, or were otherwise permitted to work in the United States, whereas

'unauthorized' denotes those workers who lacked employment authorization at the time of the interviews.

Where references are specific to foreign-born authorized workers, those distinctions will be made.

Demographics

The average worker in the U.S. farm labor market over the sample period was 33.5 years old and

foreign-bor. Approximately 71.5 percent of all workers characterized themselves as Mexican, whereas

15.3 percent and 6.5 percent characterized themselves as non-Hispanic and Mexican-American,

respectively. With respect to race, almost half (49%) of all workers categorized themselves as white,

while 5.39 percent preferred to be categorized as American Indian/Alaskan/indigenous. Only 19.8

percent of all U.S. farm workers indicated that they could speak English well, whereas 41 percent

reported that they could not speak English at all. Approximately 80 percent of all U.S. farm workers

considered Spanish as their primary language. The findings are similar for the Florida labor market: for

example, the average worker age was 32.8 years and most workers characterized themselves as Mexican

(58%). Other workers preferred to be described as 'other' Hispanic (16%), non-Hispanic (15.3%) and

Mexican American (4.6%). Only 11 percent of all Florida farm workers over the sample period

considered English as their primary language, whereas roughly 76 percent considered Spanish to be their










primary language. Further, most of the workforce could not speak English at all (47%), whereas 13

percent indicated that they could speak it well. These results would seem to suggest that the majority of

the workforce would be limited in their ability to participate in the mainstream economy (Emerson,

2000).

Labor Market Characteristics

Employer Type & Legal Status

Between 1989 and 2004, approximately 42 percent of the U.S. farm workforce was unauthorized

for employment in the United States. Of the 58 percent who were authorized, the distribution was fairly

even among workers who were citizens (24%) and possessed green cards (25%) whereas 9 percent had

some alternative form of work authorization, such as guest permits. Roughly 80 percent of all farm

workers in the U.S. over the sample period had been hired by growers directly, whereas farm labor

contractors had hired 20 percent. Comparing workforce composition by legal status,2 the proportion of

authorized to unauthorized workers was higher among growers over the sample period: approximately 63

percent of workers employed by growers were authorized for U.S. employment whereas only 43 percent

of the workforce employed by contractors was authorized. Table 1 presents the trends for the U.S. farm

workforce by legal status and employer type for specific periods: 1989-1998, 1999-2001, and 2002-2004.

The proportion of authorized workers was higher for growers than contractors on average, although more

unauthorized than authorized workers were employed by both types of employers in the 1999-2001

period. Despite a slight downturn in the 2002-2004 period, the overall proportion of unauthorized

workers for each employer type remained significant overall.

In Florida, the proportion of authorized to unauthorized workers in the labor market was more

even across the sample period, in that roughly half of all workers fell in either category. Citizens

comprised 20 percent, whereas green card holders and workers with alternate authorization comprised 17

percent and 13 percent, respectively, of the workforce. Seventy-six percent of all workers were hired


2 Legal status is self-reported by the worker in the NAWS. Workers are asked whether or not they are citizens, and
if not, what form of work authorization, if any, they have.










directly by growers, and slightly less than half (47%) of them were unauthorized for U.S. employment.

Similarly to the national sample, contractors employed a relatively small portion of the workforce (24%),

but tended to hire a larger percentage of unauthorized workers (67%) on average. On a period by period

basis (Table 1), and in comparison to the national sample, the participation of unauthorized workers in the

Florida farm labor market was more pronounced among both types of employers, particularly in the later

years. Between 1999 and 2001 for instance, approximately 86 percent of the workforce hired by

contractors was unauthorized for U.S. employment, whereas for growers, this percentage was about 56

percent. For the 2002-2004 period, workers of both types of employers self-reported that they were

mostly unauthorized approximately 73 percent of all workers employed by growers and 76 percent of

all workers employed by contractors self-reported that they were unauthorized for work in the U.S.

At the time of the NAWS interviews, workers were employed in either pre-harvest, harvest, post-

harvest, semi-skilled, supervisory, or otherjobs. Most of the workers (41.9%) employed in Florida were

harvest workers, with pre-harvest, post-harvest and semi-skilled workers representing 19.8 percent, 8.76

percent and 7.61 percent, respectively, of the workforce. This is similar to the composition by task at the

U.S. level, except that the U.S. proportion of harvest workers is less (34.5%). The percentage of workers

by legal status employed in each task at the time of interview for both regions over the sample period is

shown in Table 2. An obvious characteristic at both the state and national levels is that unauthorized

workers constitute significantly larger proportions of the pre-harvest and harvest work crews, than is the

case for the remaining categories. Similar results were found when the data were analyzed for specific

time periods, but the high proportion of unauthorized workers at the unskilled task levels (pre-harvest and

harvest) was most apparent for the 2002-2004 period, as shown in Figure 1.3

Employment Duration

The duration of labor force activity is organized in terms of farm and non-farm employment

spells4, unemployment spells, and the time workers spent abroad over the sample period as well as within


3 The supervisory category is not presented as it has too few observations to be meaningful.
4 A "spell" in the NAWS data is a continuous period of activity with the same employer and task (if employed).










specific time frames. For the U.S. as a whole, authorized foreign-born workers spent 15 years on average

in the United States between 1989 and 2004, and were employed for almost 13 years in the farm sector

and 1.5 years in the non-farm sector.5 Not surprisingly, unauthorized foreign-born workers had spent

considerably less time in the U.S. or being employed for that matter: their average length of U.S. stay was

4.8 years, and they had spent 4.3 years doing farm work and less than one year doing non-farm work.

These trends bore some similarity to those for foreign-born workers in Florida: on average, authorized

workers had spent 12.67 years in the U.S, 10 years in farm work and slightly more than a year in non-

farm work, respectively. In contrast, unauthorized workers had spent 4.6 years on average in the U.S, 4.3

years in farm work and less than one year in non-farm work.

Comparison of the trends across specific periods show that legal status notwithstanding, foreign-

born farm workers have opted for longer stays in the U.S. in recent years (2002-2004), and that their

tenure in farm work and non-farm work increased and decreased, respectively. Prior to 2002,

unauthorized workers typically spent fewer than 5 years on average in the United States. By 2002 -2004,

however, their average U.S. stay had increased to 5 years or more, and they had longer farm employment

spells. In the case of unauthorized workers, it was only at the national level that there was some

indication that average farm and non-farm work spells had both increased. In Florida, there was a

tendency for unauthorized workers to do more farm work but less non-farm work. Conversely, there was

some evidence at the national level that authorized workers had increased their tenure in both types of

employment, whereas in Florida, they had shorter spells of non-farm work.

Since a major goal of the Immigration Reform and Control Act was to discourage the

employment of unauthorized workers in industries such as agriculture, any change in the proportion of

unauthorized workers employed over time is of particular interest. Figures 2 and 3 clearly indicate that

unauthorized workers have continued to gain access to the agricultural labor market in the years following

IRCA, and have comprised the majority of newcomers in most years of the sample period (i.e. workers

who had joined the farm workforce within the year prior to the NAWS interview). Between 1989 and

5 In agricultural worker surveys, a 'year' is defined as 15 days or more of employment.










1992, authorized workers represented 82.2 percent of the farm workforce, implying an unauthorized

component of 17.8 percent (Figure 2). This proportion fell by roughly 23 percentage points between the

1989-1992 period and the 1993-1995 period, such that authorized workers comprised approximately 59

percent of the farm workforce for the latter period. Unauthorized workers comprised a larger proportion

of the workforce in the subsequent periods, and it was only in the 2002-2004 period that the proportion of

authorized workers increased. Figure 3 focuses specifically on the average proportion of authorized to

unauthorized workers who reported being in the U.S. less than a year prior to the NAWS interview. The

general pattern emerging from the data indicate that the majority of workers have been unauthorized, and

had increased over most periods except for the 2002-2004 period.

Summary statistics were also generated on the average spells for farm and non-farm employment,

unemployment and time spent abroad by farm workers across the sample period. A key area of interest is

the number of consecutive days in each spell. Figure 4 displays the average work spells by legal status

for the U.S. labor market between 1989 and 2004. The averages pertain to only those individuals who

participated in each activity. Overall, farm workers who had non-farm work had longer average spells of

non-farm work than farm work, with the difference between the two being as much as 35 days for both

authorized and unauthorized workers. Work duration is similar for workers of either legal status, but

there is significant divergence with regard to the unemployment spells. In the latter, the average period of

unemployment for unauthorized workers was markedly less in comparison to authorized workers a

difference of 33.5 days on average. Unauthorized workers who spent time abroad, spent almost 115 days

(-3.7 months) abroad on average over the sample period, which is almost 26 days more than authorized

workers who also spent time overseas. In Figure 5, the employment spells presented for Florida are

generally comparable with those of the U.S., but farm work spells are clearly longer on average (more

than 60 days), and unemployment spells are shorter by about a week for authorized workers. There is

virtually no difference between the average unemployment spells for unauthorized workers (whether U.S.

or Florida) over the sample period.










To capture any changes in labor force activity since the events of September 2001, we compared

work spells in both labor markets for the periods before (1999-2001) and after (2002-2004), coined

henceforth as pre- and post-2001 (Table 3). The averages pertain to only those individuals who

participated in each activity. No major changes are evident in farm employment overall, or for time

spent abroad for workers in the U.S. farm labor market. The more obvious differences are for non-farm

employment and time spent abroad for workers in the Florida farm labor market, and unemployment

spells in the U.S. farm labor market. Interestingly, non-farm employment for Floridian workers with non-

farm employment lengthened by 21 days on average between the two periods, and those who spent time

abroad cut time spent overseas by 54 days on average. These two categories remained relatively stable

for workers in the U.S. as a whole, but unemployment increased by 13 days between the two periods.

Figure 6 displays the average work spells by employer type for the U.S. between 1989 and 2004.

The averages pertain to only those individuals who participated in each activity. Regardless of employer

type, workers with non-farm employment generally had more consecutive days of non-farm relative to

farm employment. This was more pronounced for workers who were usually employed by contractors, in

comparison to their counterparts who had been employed directly by growers and had more days of farm

employment. Unemployment spells were also longer on average for workers who had been employed by

growers. Further assessing employment of workers by legal status as in Table 4, we see that authorized

workers generally secured more consecutive days of farm employment with either employer type, though

average tenure tended to be longer with growers overall, particularly if they were employed in Florida.

Table 5 displays employment duration (counts of days) in the last year of interview by legal

status, employer type and type of employment for workers who were involved in each type of work, i.e.,

farm or non-farm work. A striking result in the table is that the duration of farm work in Florida in

contrast to the U.S. average was 20 days longer for unauthorized workers and 18 days longer for

authorized workers. Authorized workers reported slightly more days of farm work than unauthorized

workers, both in Florida and the U.S. Among those workers who had some non-farm work, the Florida

unauthorized workers had more days of non-farm work than the authorized workers. With respect to










employer type, total farm work duration was marginally longer on average with growers of both the

Florida and U.S. labor markets. Again, among those workers with non-farm work, workers employed by

contractors in Florida had an average of nearly 11 more days of non-farm work than those employed by

growers.

Finally, U.S. workers who had been employed on a year-round basis in the last year reported

more days of farm employment (54 days more) on average than seasonal workers. By comparison, the

margin between year-round and seasonal workers was less for Florida: only 32 days difference between

year-round and seasonal workers. However, seasonal workers who had non-farm work reported 16 more

days than their Florida counterparts. The duration of farm work for year-round U.S. workers was 189.4

days, which is slightly more than was reported for Florida year-round workers in the same type of work.

Likewise, year-round U.S. workers who had done non-farm work also reported more days on average

than their counterparts in the Florida labor market.

Compensation Methods and Rates6

In most cases and across the sample period, U.S. farm workers were paid an hourly rate.

Approximately 77 percent of all U.S. farm workers were paid by the hour and less than 20 percent were

paid by piece rate. The average wage paid to authorized workers exceeded that paid to unauthorized

workers, regardless of whether hourly or piece rate methods were used. Workers who had been paid a

salary or combination of the hourly and piece rate methods comprised less than 4 percent of the entire

U.S. farm workforce on average. The hourly method of compensation was also most commonly used in

all task categories, although roughly 42 percent of all harvest workers had been paid by piece rate over

the sample period.

With respect to actual wages paid as shown in Table 6, compensation was generally higher for

workers (U.S.) who worked with growers. U.S. growers paid higher average hourly wages than

contractors in all instances, regardless of worker legal status, task type, or the type of employment


6 All compensation data are in 2004 dollars, having converted nominal wage data with the consumer price index for
all urban households.










contract (year-round or seasonal). Across specific time periods (not shown), the real hourly wage earned

by U.S. farm workers ranged from as low $6.34 on average (paid to unauthorized workers between 1989

and 1998) to as high as $7.79 (paid to authorized workers between 2002 and 2004). The real hourly rate

paid to U.S. workers increased each successive period. Between 1989-1998 and 1999-2001, the rate

increase for authorized and unauthorized workers was similar 50 cents and 49 cents, respectively. The

rate increase was noticeably different between the 1999-2001 and 2002-2004 periods, in that authorized

workers were given a larger increase (35 cents) in comparison to unauthorized workers (6 cents).

Approximately 65 percent of all Florida farm workers were paid by the hour, and 32 percent were

paid by piece rate. Payment by the hour was popular across most task categories except harvesting,

where approximately 70 percent of all workers had been paid by piece rate. As shown in Table 6,

compensation by employer type was lower than observed for the nation as a whole, whether in terms of

worker legal status, task type or type of employment, but growers paid more than contractors in each case.

Across specific time periods (not shown), the real hourly wage ranged from $5.99 (paid to unauthorized

workers between 1989 and 1998) to $7.76 (paid to authorized workers between 2002 and 2004). Real

average wages increased over the years, but by smaller increments than in the U.S. farm labor market;

between 1989-1998 and 1999-2001 for example, authorized and unauthorized workers had rate increases

of 45 cents and 27 cents, respectively. Wages increased by an additional 71 cents for authorized workers

but only 8 cents for unauthorized workers over the 2002-2004 period.

Concluding Remarks

If IRCA had been as effective as lawmakers had intended, the proportion of unauthorized workers

should have decreased over time and U.S. and Florida employers should have hired a largely authorized

workforce. However, our findings provide evidence to the contrary. Not only have unauthorized workers

been able to gain employment in the U.S. and Florida labor markets, but they have also comprised a

substantial portion of all newcomers to the farm labor market since the 1990s. On average, the proportion

of employees self-reporting as unauthorized for work is larger for labor contractors than that for growers,

but the proportion of grower employed workers self-reporting as unauthorized has been increasing over










time this trend was quite noticeable in the Florida farm labor market. In addition, most workers who

lacked legal status were employed in unskilled jobs (pre-harvest and harvest), particularly in Florida.

Unauthorized workers have also earned lower average hourly wages than authorized workers.

Workers who self-reported as authorized spent more time in farm work and less time in non-farm

work on average in comparison to those who self-reported as unauthorized. However, unauthorized

workers reported shorter periods of unemployment on average and generally spent more time abroad.

Post 2001, the patterns for employment duration of foreign-born farm workers changed, and was most

striking among workers in Florida: for example, workers spent more time doing non-farm work, less time

doing farm work and decreased their time abroad by more than one month. The latter effect is not

surprising given the tighter enforcement measures that were implemented following the terrorist attacks

of September 2001. Overall, those workers who had been employed by growers had longer farm

employment duration, and were paid higher wages regardless of their task or employment type (year-

round or seasonal), or legal status.

If IRCA had functioned as intended and the majority of the workforce was authorized, the typical

role of contractors would have been to coordinate the workforce to the seasonal fluctuations in labor

demand on farms, such workers' unemployment spells would be reduced between jobs. However, our

results have shown that although contractors employed a smaller proportion of workers between 1989 and

2004, they hired a larger proportion of unauthorized workers than growers. Workers also had shorter

employment duration and earned lower wages if they were employed with contractors. These findings

seem to concur with concerns that have been raised in relation to the actual role of contractors in the farm

labor market post-IRCA, that is they are more adept at recruiting workers with limited English language

ability such as would be the case with new immigrants for short term work and that they pay lower wages

in general than growers.

In light of the continued and increasing presence of unauthorized workers following IRCA,

immigration reform has been widely discussed in recent years. Several bills are currently pending in the

109th Congress. Some of the more popular legislative items being considered include the Agricultural Job










Opportunity, Benefits, and Security (AgJOBS) Act, the Kennedy-McCain and the Comyn-Kyl proposals

(Senate), and the Tancredo and Jackson-Lee proposals (House of Representatives), in addition to the Bush

Proposal that was initially unveiled in January 2004, and reiterated in October 2005. Most provide some

provision for temporary guest worker programs, although H.B. 4437 passed by the House of

Representatives on December 17, 2005, by contrast has no guest worker provision, and has quite strong

enforcement provisions. In the bills with guest worker provisions, unlike IRCA, there is no indication

that workers would be granted amnesty and guest permits would expire after three years in most cases.

As suggested with H.B. 4437, there is some indication that lawmakers may consider increasing the

severity of employer sanctions, albeit to varying degrees. The tenor of these proposals would seem to

suggest that labor markets that currently utilize large amounts of unauthorized labor, as in areas with a

strong specialty crop emphasis such as Florida, will face a restructured labor market in the event of new

legislation and enforcement. Possible decreases in labor supply and sharp wage increases may create

substantial difficulties for the specialty crop sector, at least in the short run.

References
Carroll, D., R. Samardick, S. Bernard, S. Gabbard, T. Hernandez. F,,. i,1' from the
National Agricultural Workers Survey .. I WS) 2001 2002. A Demographic and Employment Profile of
United States Farm Workers. U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy,
Office of Programmatic Policy, Research Report No. 9. March 2005.
Emerson, R.D. ( I,, ., in the Southeastern Farm Labor Market. Paper prepared for The
NAWS at 10: A Research Seminar at the University of California-Davis. Food & Resource Economics
Department, University of Florida. October 2000.
Levine, L. Farm Labor 1/. ', 1,,. andl ,,,,I ,,al. ',, Policy. Congressional Research
Service Report, No. RL30395, 2004. Available at:
limp \ \ \ .ncseonline.org/NLE/CRSreports/04Feb/RL30395.pdf
U.S. Department of Agriculture, NASS. 2002 Census ofAgriculture. Available at:
Imp \ \ \ .nass.usda.gov/Census_of Agriculture/index.asp
Oliveira, V., A. Effland, J. Runyan, S. Hamm. Hired Farm Labor Use on Fruit, Vegetable &
Horticultural Specialty Farms. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Ag.
Economics Report No. 676. December 1993.











Table 1: Farm Workforce Composition (Percentage) by Legal Status & Employer Type over Specific Periods, U.S. & FL

1989-1998 1999-2001 2002-2004
Workers (%, U.S.)
Grower FLC Grower FLC Grower FLC

Unauthorized 30.97 52.21 50.91 68.01 45.56 62.29
Authorized 69.02 47.79 49.09 31.99 54.44 37.71

Workers (%, FL) Grower FLC Grower FLC Grower FLC
Unauthorized 38.61 60.54 56.46 85.74 72.76 76.15
Authorized 61.39 39.46 43.54 14.26 27.24 23.85

Source: NAWS


Table 2: Percentage of Authorized and Unauthorized Workers by Task at the Time of the Interview, U.S. & FL, 1989-2004

Regn W s () Task at Time of Interview
Region Workers (%)
Pre-harvest Harvest Post-harvest Semi-skilled Supervisory Other
Unauthorized 43.12 49.53 28.73 35.13 6.42 37.29
U.S
Authorized 56.88 50.47 71.27 64.87 93.58 62.71

Fl a Unauthorized 49.59 64.97 37.94 28.48 13.55 41.23
Florida
Authorized 50.41 35.03 62.06 71.52 86.45 58.77

Source: NAWS











Table 3: Activity Duration (Days) in the Last Year in Florida and U.S. Farm Labor Markets, Pre- and Post 2001"


1Florida U.S.
Type of Activity Spell Florida U.S.
Pre-2001 Post 2001 Pre-2001 Post 2001
Farm Employment 83.41 78.39 64.34 64.55
Non-farm Employment 93.63 114.67 109.66 105.95
Unemployment 38.61 33.13 48.19 61.27
Abroad 132.95 78.04 100.30 100.04

Source: NAWS
a The duration averages specified pertain only to individuals who participated in each activity, respectively.



Table 4: Average Job Duration in the Last Year by Employer Type and Legal Status of Workers, FL & U.S., 1989-2004

Legal Status of Consecutive Days of Farm Employment
Legal Status of .
Worker Florida U.S.
______Grower Contractor Grower Contractor
Unauthorized 77.8 64.8 53.8 50.6
Authorized 83.5 73.9 57.4 54.1


Source: NAWS











Table 5: Total Days of Employment in the Last Year by Legal Status, Employer Type and Type of Employment, U.S. & FL

Total Days of Employment
U.S. Florida
Legal Status of Farm Work Non-Farm Work" Farm Work Non-Farm Work"
Worker
Authorized 149.32 130.27 166.90 110.94
Unauthorized 144.36 116.55 164.30 117.91
Employer Type
Grower 147.72 126.22 166.64 112.17
Contractor 146.61 122.72 163.89 122.94
Type of Employment
Seasonal 135.00 128.97 167.32 113.13
Year-round 189.35 117.43 181.84 110.42

Source: NAWS
a The non-farm work values reflect the averages only of those individuals who had non-farm work. Consequently, the values for farm work and
non-farm work cannot be added together for an estimate of total days employed in any type of work for the year.











Table 6: Average Real Hourly Earnings by Employer Type and Legal Status, Task at Time of Interview, and Type of Employment: FL &
U.S, 1989-2004


Florida U.S.
Legal Status of Grower Contractor Grower Contractor
Worker
Unauthorized $6.17 $5.81 $6.65 $6.42
Authorized 6.85 5.91 7.21 6.60
Task at Time of Interview"
Pre-harvest $6.33 $5.57 $6.80 $6.35
Harvest 6.18 5.89 6.79 6.41
Post-harvest 6.35 5.65 6.89 6.61
Semi-skilled 7.07 6.56 7.13 6.71
Other 6.74 5.94 7.47 6.63
Type of Employment
Year-round $6.70 $6.00 $7.48 $6.43
Seasonal 6.09 5.79 6.71 6.42


Source: NAWS
a The supervisory category contains too few observations for any meaningful interpretation to be made and is therefore excluded.















Figure 1: U.S. Farm Workforce Compositon by Legal Status & Task, 2002-2004


SUnauthorized *Authorized

1400



1200



1000



800



600



400



200



0
Preharvest Harvest Post-harvest Semi-skilled Other
Task at Time of Interview


Figure 2: Proportion of Authorized to Unauthorized Farm Workers, U.S., 1989-2004

SUnauthorized MAuthonzed

90


80


70


60


50


40


30


20


10 -


0
1989-1992 1993-1995 1996-1998 1999-2001 2002-2004
Period


















Figure 3: Proportion of Authorized & Unauthorized Newcomers
Within One Year of NAWS Interview, U.S., 1989-2004

*Unauthorized *Authorzed

100

90

80

70

60

S50

40


30

20

10

0


1996-1998 1999-2001
Period


Figure 4: Average Work Spells by Legal Status, US, 1989-2004a

*Authorized Workers *Unauthorized Workers






m


Farm Work


The duration averages specified pertain only to individuals who participated in each activity respectively.








19


Non Farm Work


Unemployed


1989-1992 1993-1995


2002-2004














Figure 5: Average Work Spells by Legal Status, FL, 1989-2004a

MAuthorized EUnauthorized












Day, ...












Farm Work Non Farm Work Unemployed Abroad


SThe duration averages specified pertain only to individuals who participated in each activity respectively.


Figure 6: Work Spells by Employer Type, U.S., 1989-2004a

I OGrower FLC"


Non-farm Work Unemployed
Labor Force Activity


a The duration averages specified pertain only to individuals who participated in each activity respectively.
b FLC is an acronym for 'farm labor contractor'.


Farm Work


Abroad




University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs