Effects of the Great Recession on the U.S. Agricultural Labor Market

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We empirically test four hypotheses regarding differences between agricultural worker earnings (wages and bonuses) during recession and non-recessionary times, between agricultural worker time use during recession and non-recession times, between outcomes for undocumented and documented workers, and between outcomes for agricultural workers versus those working in other sectors of interest. Regression analyses show that the wages of documented (legal) seasonal agricultural workers increased more during the last three recessions than did the wages of undocumented agricultural workers and low-skilled nonagricultural workers. Bonus pay and weekly hours also increased for some workers, suggesting general increases in the financial wellbeing of employed agricultural workers during recessions.

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