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The National Agricultural Workers Survey

Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 2001 - 2002
A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farm Workers


[1] The population sampled by the NAWS consists of nearly all farm workers in crop agriculture, including field packers and supervisors. The sample does not include poultry, livestock and fishery workers, secretaries, mechanics, or H-2A foreign temporary workers.

[2] The sum of portions is not equal to 100 percent because of rounding.

[3] An employer can be either a farm owner or a farm labor contractor. While a worker employed by a farm labor contractor may work on more than one farm in a year, their contractor is counted as one employer.

[4] The sum of portions is not equal to 100 percent because of rounding.

[5] An overnight stay is not required to be classified as a migrant.

[6] As discussed in Chapter 1, foreign-born newcomers are defined as persons who first came to the United States less than a year ago. They comprised 16 percent of the hired crop labor force in 2001-2002.

[7] Crop workers under the age of 18 who live with a sibling are "accompanied".

[8] The designations "international" and "domestic" migrants convey the travel patterns of the parents, not the country where the children were living when their parents were interviewed.

[9] The NAWS contractor has observed that it is not uncommon for Native Americans from Mexico and Central American countries to report Spanish as their primary language, even when the first language these same workers spoke as a child was an indigenous one and they are currently somewhat limited in Spanish.

[10] Respondents' self-reports of English proficiency could be higher or lower than their actual proficiency.

[11] An employer can be either a farm owner or a farm labor contractor. While a worker employed by a farm labor contractor may work on more than one farm in a year, their labor contractor is counted as one employer.

[12] All weeks reported in this section are the average number of weeks in the preceding 12-month period.

[13] Sixty-nine percent of all unauthorized workers first came to the United States more than one year prior to the interview.

[14] Unauthorized workers were also more likely than authorized workers to have had more than one farm employer in the previous year (40% vs. 20%, respectively).

[15] The NAWS counts any day in which the respondent worked at least one hour in a farm job as a farm workday. Days on which a worker was employed for more than one employer were counted only once.

[16] Among all hired crop workers in 2001-2002, including the foreign-born newcomers, the average number of farm workdays in the previous 12 months was 174.

[17] Unauthorized foreign-born newcomers worked an average of 90 days in farm jobs. The average number of farm workdays performed by all unauthorized workers, including the unauthorized foreign-born newcomers, was 165. Ninety-nine percent of the foreign-born newcomers were unauthorized.

[18] As discussed in Chapter 1, foreign-born newcomers comprised 72 percent of all workers who were in their first year of U.S. farm employment.

[19] Foreign-born newcomers are included in this section.

[20] Ninety-one percent of those who said more than five years qualified their response by also conveying that they would continue working in agriculture as long as they were able to do the work.

[21] Twenty-seven percent of the workers performed a task that was classified as 'other'. Over half of the respondents (54%) who were performing an 'other' task at the time of the interview were employed in a horticultural crop, e.g., in a greenhouse, and it is likely that many of the tasks could be classified as technical production. Tasks are being reviewed to determine how best to categorize them.

[22] Previous summaries of NAWS findings reported the share of workers who performed supervisory tasks. While such workers continue to qualify to participate in the survey if they also work directly with crops, they comprised less than one percent of all workers interviewed in fiscal years 2001-2002 and are therefore not reported here.

[23] Any employment in the year qualifies as one year.

[24] Workers who said that they were informed about work with their current employer via 'other' methods included those who responded to a newspaper advertisement, lived at the work site, and those, who by custom, knew when it was time to report back to work.

[25] These differences persist when controlling for crop and task categories. For example, workers who harvested fruit and nut crops and who were paid an hourly wage averaged 46 hours per week, compared to 35 hours for workers who did the same work but were paid by the piece.

[26] To construct an average hourly wage, piece rate and combination wages were converted to an hourly basis and then averaged with the wages of workers who were paid by the hour.

[27] Average hourly wages in all other sections of the report are based on fiscal years 2001-2002: October 1, 2000 - September 30, 2002.

[28] Among those who did not know, 93 percent had been with their present employer for less than one year.

[29] Multiple responses were permitted. Five percent identified an 'other' type of bonus.

[30] Unemployment insurance coverage varies by state. In the majority of states, employers of agricultural labor are required to pay unemployment insurance taxes if they have ten or more workers (on at least one day in each of 20 different weeks in the current or immediately preceding calendar year), or exceed a minimum payroll size ($20,000 in the current or preceding calendar quarter)

Agricultural workers are concentrated on farms with more than 10 workers. (U.S. Department of Labor Report to Congress. The Agricultural Labor Market-Status and Recommendations. December 2000.)

[31] Agricultural workers are covered by workers' compensation in varying degrees in 40 jurisdictions. In 14, they are covered the same as all other employees. Twenty-six jurisdictions carry limitations that are not applicable to other covered employees, and 13 jurisdictions allow agricultural employers to secure coverage for their workers voluntarily.

[32] While the NAWS also obtains health insurance information for family members (spouse and children), only health insurance coverage for the farm worker respondent is reported here.

[33] Unlike the subsequent health insurance question, this one is not asked in the context of the current farm job.

[34] Among those who answered "other," 82 percent identified a parent's medical plan; seven percent said that they and their employer shared the cost of the premium; and ten percent identified a variety of other sources, such as "clinic," "church," "university," and "other employer." Based on the combined responses to the question "Who pays for the insurance?", 12 percent of the workers had health insurance while working for their current farm employer, either outright (the vast majority), or on a shared-cost basis.

[35] "Raitero", derived from "ride", is the Spanish word for a person who charges a fee for providing a ride to work.

[36] One percent each of labor-contracted workers reported that a) they had to pay for the equipment or tools only when they break, and b) that a friend or family member paid for all or part of the cost.

[37] The interviews were conducted in fiscal years 2001-2002 but the responses here are based on income in calendar years 2001-2002. Twenty percent reported not working in the United States in the previous calendar year. The median individual income range, from all sources, was also $10,000 - $12,499.

[38] The median total family income range was $12,500-$14,499.

[39] Poverty in this analysis requires that the entire NAWS range containing the worker's family income fall below the poverty guideline for appropriate family size. NAWS family size in this analysis is defined as all family members of the farm worker who are living in the United States and who depend on the farm worker's income. Poverty status is calculated using the federal poverty guidelines that correspond to the calendar year in which the farm workers were interviewed.

[40] Four percent of the international migrants (international shuttle and international follow-the-crop) reported owning or buying a home (3%) or mobile home (1%) in the United States. Twenty-three percent of this group reported owning or buying a car or truck in the United States.

Appendix B

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