Where Do Hired Farm Workers Get the Highest Pay?

01:15AM May 22, 2015
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The markets may be down, but wages are up slightly for hired farm workers.

Farmers paid their hired workers an average of $12.27 per hour in April, an increase of 2% from the previous year, according to data released Thursday by the USDA.  

That figure includes all hired farm workers, from field workers and ranchers to equipment operators and supervisors. Overall, farm operators hired about the same number of people—687,000—in April 2015 as they did last year.

Of course, wages vary based on the job and the location. The best place to be a farm worker? The Northern Plains, where the average was $14.08, nearly $2 per hour more than the national figure. (The Northern Plains region includes Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, where employers must compete with high-paying oil jobs for workers.)

For those working in the Northern Plains, the highest paying work was in the field ($14.13 per hour) vs. livestock ($13.09 per hour).

In the Corn Belt, wages hovered around that national average. In Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, farm workers make an average of $12.86 per hour, with a higher pay ($11.98 per hour) in the field versus in livestock operations ($11.33 per hour.)

The reverse was true in Iowa and Missouri, where the average wage was $12.08. Field workers in those states were paid an average of $10.92 per hour, with livestock workers receiving more--$11.79 per hour.

The Lake States of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin also had above-average pay with an hourly wage of $12.43 per hour. Livestock workers did better ($12.03 per hour) than their counterparts in the field ($11.24 per hour).

How do these wages compare with what you pay your hired workers? Let us know in the comments.