The U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) is an employment-based, random-sample survey of U.S. crop workers that collects demographic, employment, and health data in face-to-face interviews. The primary purposes of the NAWS are to monitor the terms and conditions of agricultural employment and assess the conditions of farmworkers. The survey also generates information for various Federal agencies.

This resource is the thirteenth in a series of Department of Labor publications on the demographic and employment characteristics of hired agricultural workers in the United States (U.S.). It examines recent information on the demographics and employment characteristics of those who perform U.S. crop work. As indicated in the Executive Summary, the primary focus of this report is the presentation of findings for the period covering fiscal years (FY) 2015 and 2016. These findings are based on data collected from face-to-face interviews with 5,342 crop farmworkers through the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2016

Major Findings & Recommendations

The report examines recent information on the demographics and employment characteristics of farmworkers during fiscal years (FY) 2015 and 2016.

Findings from the nine characteristics examined are organized by subject area.

  1. Birthplace, Ethnicity and Race. Sixty-nine percent of hired farmworkers interviewed were born in Mexico, 24 percent were born in the United States, 1 percent were born in Puerto Rico, 6 percent were born in Central America, and a small portion (1%) originated from various other regions. Eighty-three percent of all farmworkers were Hispanic.
  2. Employment Eligibility. Just more than half of all farmworkers in 2015-2016 had work authorization (51%): 29 percent were U.S. citizens, 21 percent were legal permanent residents, and 1 percent had work authorization through some other visa program.
  3. Demographics, Family Composition. Males comprised 68 percent of the hired crop labor force in 2015-2016. Farmworkers were relatively young, their average age being 38. Forty-four percent of workers were under the age of 35, 41 percent were ages 35 to 54, and 14 percent were age 55 or older.
  4. Language and Education. Seventy-seven percent of farmworkers said that Spanish was the language in which they are most comfortable conversing, 21 percent said English was, and 1 percent reported an indigenous language.
  5. Housing. Most workers reported they rent housing from someone other than their employer and/or with a family member. Employer-offered housing made up 16% of the responses.
  6. Distance to Work and Transportation. Most workers report that they live near their work sites with more than half indicating they have access to a car.
  7. Job Characteristics and Employment History. Eighty percent of farmworkers were employed directly by growers and 20 percent were employed by farm labor contractors.
  8. Income and Assets. Farmworkers’ mean and median personal incomes the previous year were in the range of $17,500 to $19,999. Fourteen percent of workers said their total personal income was less than $10,000, 29 percent said they had personal incomes of $10,000 to $19,999, another 29 percent had personal incomes of $20,000 to $29,999, and 14 percent reported that their total personal income was $30,000 or more.
  9. Health Care. Forty-seven percent of farmworkers interviewed in 2015-2016 reported that they had health insurance. Sixty-three percent of farmworkers used a health care provider in the United States sometime in the last two years