Nov 29, 2022
Field worker wages up 6%, signaling hike for H-2A pay

Field workers at U.S. farms received an average of $17.04 per hour in October, an increase of 6% from the same month in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Labor Survey.

The annual average gross wage rate for field workers in 2022 is $16.77, up 6% from 2021’s annual average, according to the report.

The USDA report also updates wage statistics from July 2021-July 2022, which shows that field workers received $16.80 in July, a 4% increase from July 2021. Although livestock workers saw wages increase 7% and 10% in July and October 2022 from the respective year-ago periods, they still earned less on average than field workers:

  • Field workers, October 2022 – $17.04 per hour, a 6% increase in a year;
  • Livestock workers, October 2022 – $16.52 per hour, a 7% increase in a year;
  • Field workers, July 2022 – $16.80 per hour, a 4% increase in a year; and
  • Livestock workers, July 2022 – $16.65, a 10% increase in a year.

Combined gross wages for field and livestock workers in October 2022 was $16.90, an increase of 6% from the previous October, and combined gross wages for those works in July 2022 was $16.76, and 6% increase.

The USDA’s Farm Labor Survey findings on wages are used to set the Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWR), which are the hourly rates mandated for H-2A employees across the U.S. The report is issued twice a year, with statistics from July/October and January/April for a report in the spring.

Farms and ranches had directly hired 785,000 workers the week of Oct. 9-15, a 2% increase from the same period in 2021. In July, the 797,000 field/orchard and ranch workers was about the same from the same week in July 2021.

According to the survey, field workers and their duties include:

  • Planting, tending and harvesting crops;
  • Farm machinery operators;
  • Packinghouse graders-sorters;
  • Crop, nursery and greenhouse workers; and
  • Packagers and packers.

See related articles:

FFVA comments on rising farm labor rates

IFPA calls H-2A wages an ‘assault’ on produce industry

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