There were 906,000 workers hired directly by farm operators in the U.S. the week of July 8th, up nearly 9 percent from the same week in July, 2011. The week of October 7th there were 872,000 farm workers up more than 5 percent from October of 2011.
Average farm worker pay in July was $11.36 per hour up 4 percent from a year earlier. Field workers averaged $10.71 while livestock workers averaged $10.89 per hour. The average number of hours worked in July was 40.4, down 2 percent from July 2011.
In October the average pay was $11.76 per hour, up more than 5 percent from a year ago. Field workers averaged $11.22 and livestock workers averaged $10.83. The number of hours worked averaged 41.5 per week in October. The biggest increase in farm wages was in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico.
The highest average wage for all hired workers was $12.86 in the Northern Plains (Kansas, Nebraska, South and North Dakota). The Cornbelt I states (Illinois, Indiana & Ohio) averaged $12.48, the Pacific Northwest $12.45 and the Lake States (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan) averaged $12.05.
The drought did have an influence on hiring across the country, the number of hired workers increased in the eastern United States in July as growing conditions were good. Meanwhile, employment increased in the “Cornbelt II” area, Iowa and Missouri as the drought forced livestock producers to start feeding hay and silage.
By October, jobs remained plentiful in the eastern United States but tailed-off considerably in the corn belt as there were fewer principle crops to harvest.
Read the full NASS report here: