Some of the hardest working people in the region, those who work in the fields, orchards, vineyards and farms of Michigan’s Great Southwest, are earning more thanks to an increase in the hourly wage for temporary or seasonal non-immigrant foreign agricultural workers.
According to a report today from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, the hourly wage for those ag workers has increased from $13.54 to $14.40 per hour. That increase went into effect three weeks ago on January 2nd, 2020. The department says positions paying that wage offer great opportunities for workers to earn above the state’s minimum wage rate of $9.65 per hour.
The 86-cent hourly increase was the result of the revised Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) established by the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor. The AEWR is the hourly wage rate paid to temporary or seasonal non-immigrant foreign workers (H-2A workers) who perform agricultural labor or services, excluding the herding or production of livestock on the range.
U.S. workers are also entitled to that wage if they are hired to work with an agricultural employer under an H-2A employment contract. The rates are established for each state annually so the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers in the state will not be adversely affected by the employment of H-2A workers.
Hector Arroyo Jr., who manages Agricultural Employment Services for the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity says, “The food and agriculture industry contributes more than $100 billion to Michigan’s economy annually, and supporting our farmers’ efforts in meeting their labor needs is a priority.” Arroyo adds, “The State of Michigan provides a variety of resources, such as the Migrant Services Worker and Foreign Labor Certification programs, to support the state’s agriculture industry.”
In addition to the minimum hourly wage, housing may also be provided at no cost to H-2A and U.S. workers who are commuting a distance that would prevent them from returning to their home on the same day of work.
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity anticipates there will be several hundred agricultural job opportunities available throughout the state this year. Those job listings are posted on the Pure Michigan Talent Connect website at MiTalent.org.
To learn more about agricultural employment opportunities, anyone can call the Agricultural Recruitment Hotline at 855-633-2373. More information is also available by contacting any Michigan Works! Service Center at 800-285-WORKS (9675) or MichiganWorks.org.