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The National Agricultural Workers Survey

Each year since the inception of the study the NAWS has interviewed approximately 2,500 randomly selected agricultural workers across the United States. The sampling procedure respects seasonal and regional fluctuations in the level of agricultural work activity. Each fiscal year includes a fall cycle, a winter cycle, and a spring/summer cycle of interviews. The number of interviews conducted during a cycle is proportionate to the amount of agricultural activity at that time of year.

The NAWS uses sites' area sampling to obtain a nationally representative group of workers while containing travel costs of survey staff. A sample of 288 counties in 25 states was selected to represent 12 distinct agricultural regions. No fewer than four counties were chosen from each region. Multi-stage sampling is used to choose respondents in each cycle. The likelihood of a given site being selected varies with the size of its agricultural payroll.

Agricultural employers within each of the selected counties are chosen randomly from public agency records, including unemployment insurance files and Agricultural Commissioners' pesticide registrations. These sources of employer names are supplemented from lists maintained by such agencies as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Agricultural Soil and Conservation Service, and the state Department of Industrial Relations.

NAWS lead interviewers' contact the selected employers, explain the purpose of the survey, and obtain access to the work site to schedule interviews. Interviewers then go to the work site, explain the purpose of the survey to the workers, and ask a random sample of them to participate. Interviews then are conducted in the worker's home or at another location of the worker's choice.