In 2022, the average earnings of all nonsupervisory farmworkers (i.e., combined field and livestock workers) was $16.62 per hour. This is just half (52%) of the average hourly wage for all workers in the United States in 2022, which stands at $32.00 per hour (see EPI’s Data Library).
The average hourly wage for production and nonsupervisory nonfarm workers–the most appropriate cohort of nonagricultural workers to compare with farmworkers–was $27.56, according to the Current Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In other words, farmworkers earned just under 60% of what production and nonsupervisory workers outside of agriculture earned.
USDA has referred to this wage gap between farmworker and nonfarm worker wages as “slowly shrinking, but still substantial.” In 2022, the farmworker wage gap remained substantial and virtually unchanged from the previous two years.
Farmworkers have very low levels of educational attainment. According to the National Agricultural Workers Survey, 26% completed the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade, and 14% completed some education beyond high school.
Farmworkers earn the same or less than the two groups of nonfarm workers with the lowest levels of education in the United States: Nonsupervisory farmworkers earned 10 cents an hour more than the average wage earned by workers without a high school diploma ($16.52), but earned $5.32 less per hour than the average wage earned by workers with only a high school diploma ($21.94).
In sum, farmworkers in the United States continue to earn relatively low wages, and have for many decades, which belies the suggestions from agribusiness that farmworkers are overpaid and that their wages are rising uncontrollably.