Farmworker Wages up 3% in 2017; Average Now $12.51

On November 16, 2017, the USDA released its October 2017 survey data detailing that average wages for all hired workers are up 3% year-over-year and the national average for field worker wages is now $12.51/hour.

In addition to benefits like housing, hourly wages are, of course, a key motivating factor in attracting the amount of talent necessary to safeguard against unpicked fields.

For all hired workers (including field workers, lifestock workers and other roles like tractor drivers), the average wage paid for year to date 2017 was $13.32/hour (up 3% from 2016). The largest percentage increases were in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, California and Hawaii. For October alone, the average wage paid was $13.42/hour (up 1% fro 2016). 

For field workers only, the average wage paid for year to date 2017 was $12.51/hour (up 2% from 2016). For October alone, the average wage paid was $12.83/hour (up 2% from 2016).

Analyzing the data by standard occupational classification, we’re able to see the average hourly wage by role in October at $12.55 for graders and sorters, ag products; $13.25 for ag equipment operators; $12.65 for farmworkers, crop, nursery and greenhouse; $12.15 for farmworkers, farm, ranch and aquacultural animals; $13.30 ag workers, all other; $11.25 for packers and packagers, hand; $22.50 for farmers, ranchers and other ag managers; $20.10 for first line supervisors of farming, fishing workers.

As employers know, there are peaks and valleys to wages throughout the year. $11/hour jobs posted on Ganaz from May-October got almost no applicants and lots of ridicule. But an $11/hour job in December in Hood River, Oregon got plenty of applicants since people are needing work this time of year.

This graph shows that California usually outpaces the average national increases, which comes as no surprise to California employers. 

Want to know what the wages (year to date 2017) are in your particular state for field workers only (excludes livestock and other farm roles)?

Check out the detailed average $/hour below by region:

CT, ME, MA, NH, NY, RI, VT: 13.28

DE, MD, NJ, PA: 12.43

NC, VA: 11.52

KY, TN, WV: 11.21

AL, GA, SC: 10.84

FL: 11.17

MI, MN, WI: 13.02

IL, IN OH: 12.87

IA, MO: 13.38

AR, LA, MS: 10.62

KS, NE, ND, SD: 14.55

OK, TX: 11.53

ID, MT, WY: 11.42

CO, NV UT: 10.31

AZ, NM: 10.44

OR, WA: 14.12

CA: 13.01

HI: 14.08

US average field worker wage: 12.51

These rising wage rates seen in the USDA data are consistent with the trends we’re seeing at Ganaz from our farmers’ job postings on the app, as well as several state minimum wage increases that are slated to begin in January 2018.

Below is a highlight of a some key wage legislation changes to be prepared for heading into the new year.

As stated by the Western Growers Association,


“In 2016, SB 3 was signed to gradually increase the minimum wage in California to $15 per hour by 2022. Beginning January 1, 2018, employers with 26 or more employees will be required to pay non-overtime-exempt employees $11.00 per hour while businesses with 25 or fewer employees will have to pay their non-exempt employees $10.50 per hour.”


“Under Proposition 206, the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, Arizona’s minimum wage will increase to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2018; $11.00 per hour in 2019; and $12.00 per hour in 2020.”


Currently, minimum wage in the Oregon is $10.25/hour and increases to $10.75/hour (standard), $12.00/hour (Portland Metro) and $10.50/hour (non-urban counties) on July 1, 2018. On July 1, 2019, the minimum wage increases to $11.25/hour, $12.50/hour and $11.00/hour, respectively. 

Washington State

Currently, minimum wage in Washington State is $11.00/hour and increases to $11.50/hour on January 1, 2018. Thereafter, minimum wage increases to $12.00/hour and $13.50/hour in 2019 and 2020, respectively.