Americans Leave Farm Work to Immigrants
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U.S. citizens, or permanent residents, are not interested in farm work. U.S. government statistics show that even though unemployment rates are high, very few Americans apply for vacant farm-work positions; and those who do, rarely stay. One California farmer spent $3,000 this year, on advertisements for vacant positions trimming strawberry plants. The ads are to make sure foreign workers do not get jobs at his nursery that U.S. citizens and residents want. But the $3,000 in advertising did not yield any American workers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than half of all the people who work on United States farms are illegal immigrants. And more than half of the legal farm workers are born outside of the U.S. The seasonal farm work often performed by foreign labor usually pays little more that minimum wage, something that according to economists is unlikely to attract U.S. citizens to apply for the jobs. Meanwhile there has been much debate over whether Americans would apply if wages were higher. The United Farm Workers of America has campaigned to get Americans to take farm jobs. 8,600 has applied, 7 has started working in the field. According to the UFW, farm work is the third most dangerous job in the United States, with more than 25 fatal work accidents for every 100,000 workers. They suggest that increasing the number of foreign workers that are allowed to come and work legally in the U.S., for example under the H-2A visa program, would improve working conditions over time, making Americans more interested in agricultural work.