University of California

For California farmworkers, future holds little prospect for change


Philip L. Martin
J. Edward Taylor

Authors Affiliations

P.L. Martin is Professor Department of Agricultural, UC Davis; J. E. Taylor is Professor, Resource Economics, UC Davis.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 54(1):19-25. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n01p19. January 2000.

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Agriculture is a major employer in California. Some 800,000 to 900,000 people work for wages at some time during a typical year on California farms. Only about half of those work year-round so that farmworkers represent just 3% of California's average 14 million wage and salary workers. Most farmworkers in California are seasonally employed on one farm for less than 6 months each year, and earn a quarter of the average factory worker's annual salary. The vast majority are Hispanic immigrants. During the next quarter century, these trends are likely to continue, with the farm labor market becoming increasingly isolated from the mainstream. An alternative scenario is that strong unions and government regulations could transform farm work into an occupation that can provide a career and support a family. Immigration policy will play a critical role in determining the characteristics of California farmworkers in the 21st century.


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Martin P, Taylor J. 2000. For California farmworkers, future holds little prospect for change. Hilgardia 54(1):19-25. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n01p19
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