According to the 2012 Agricultural Census, contract and hired labor together accounted for 10 percent of U.S. agriculture’s total operating expenses. This share was much higher for some agricultural sectors: 40 percent for greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production; 39 percent for fruit and tree nut farming; and 27 percent for vegetable and melon farming.
Between 2014 and 2018, the average hourly real wage for nonsupervisory hired farmworkers (in 2018 dollars) rose from $12 to $13.25, an increase of 10.4 percent. This increase in the real wage for farm labor is the fastest experienced over a four-year period during the past two decades.
Growth in farmworker wages was faster than growth in non-farm wages. Over the period 2014-18, the hourly real wage for all nonsupervisory production workers outside agriculture rose from $21.90 to $22.97 (in 2018 dollars), an increase of 3.5 percent. In 2018, the farm wage was 58.5 percent of the non-farm wage, compared with 54.8 percent in 2014.