Proposed changes to the H-2A program would affect labor costs in the United States and California

Philip L. Martin, Zachariah Rutledge
Published in
California Agriculture
Publication Date

The H-2A visa program allows farmers in the United States to be certified by the U.S. Department of Labor to recruit and employ guest workers, usually for a maximum of 10 months, when they are unable to find enough workers living in the United States (including U.S. citizens, other legally authorized workers, and workers not authorized to work in the United States). We analyzed U.S. and California H-2A job certification data to determine how the program is currently used and how a proposed H-2A wage freeze would likely affect future farm labor costs. Our analysis suggests that changes in the H-2A visa program would likely expand the program while reducing labor costs in California and elsewhere.

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