H-2A Use Has Tripled in Ten Years

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The number of H-2A certified job position has tripled in the last ten years, according to a series of reports issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In just-released statistics for fiscal year 2018 [https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/PerformanceData/2018/H-2A_Selected_Statistics_FY2018_Q4.pdf], the DOL reported that it had certified 86,014 H-2A job positions ten years ago, but the figure now is 242,762, an increase of more than 21 percent over fiscal year 2017.

More than half of all H-2A laborers (53.5 percent) work in only five States:

1. Georgia (14.1%)

2. Florida (11%)

3. Washington State (10.4%)

4. North Carolina (9.5%)

5. California (8.5%)

Pulling out only the crop-specific numbers from the DOL statistics, the following are the top crops:

1. Berries (25,424 workers)

2. Tobacco (18,658 workers)

3. Apples (14,920 workers)

4. Melons (11,026 workers)

5. Lettuce (9,758 workers)

6. Corn (8,254 workers)

7. Cherries (7,254 workers)

The current Adverse Effect Wage Rate (“AEWR”) for 2018 in the above five leading States is:

1. Georgia ($10.95)

2. Florida ($11.29)

3. Washington State ($14.12)

4. North Carolina ($11.46)

5. California ($13.18)

The 2019 AEWR has yet to be published by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Future reform of the U.S. Immigration laws as they relate to continuation of the H-2A program, and possible replacement of the H-2A program with a new non-immigrant visa program, will be dependent upon what happens in the upcoming mid-term elections. If Democrats retake the House of Representatives, it’s likely that there will be renewed legislative effects towards providing either permanent residency status or citizenship for current DACA visa holders. On the other hand, if the Republicans maintain control of both the house and U.S. Senate, future immigration reform is more likely and could result in a new guest worker program to replace the costly and over-regulated H-2A program, next.