Cornell Survey: New York Farmworkers Beat Minimum Wage

Farmworkers in the state of New York are paid, on average, more than minimum wage, a Cornell University report found.

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Experienced fruit pickers are paid an average of $10.65 per hour, and inexperienced dairy hands made $8.39 per hour. All of the 933 farms that responded to the survey paid more than the New York minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour.

The findings were presented at the recent Becker Forum in Syracuse by senior Extension associate Thomas Maloney, who conducted the farm labor study with Professor Emeritus Nelson Bills of Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. The Becker Forum focused on ways in which growers can have an impact on federal immigration reform.

The study found that about 20% of the fruit and vegetable farms surveyed paid top managers less than $30,000 per year; 25% paid between $30,000 and $40,000; 20% of vegetable farms and 27% of fruit operations paid between $40,000 and $50,000; and 33% of vegetable farms and 20% of fruit operations paid top managers more than $50,000.

Maloney and Bills also found that immigration policy was a major concern for many New York growers. A majority of the farm managers surveyed who employ immigrant workers said the comprehensive immigration reform and a guest worker program were very important to the success of their businesses.