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USDA: H-2A Seasonal Worker Program Expanded Over Time

USDA’s Economic Research Service Monday reported data that shows the H-2A season worker program has expanded over time. U.S. agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of U.S. domestic workers can fill seasonal farm jobs with temporary foreign workers through the H-2A visa program. The Department of Labor certified around 317,000 temporary jobs in fiscal year 2021 under the H-2A visa program, more than six times the number certified in 2005. Only about 80 percent of the certified jobs in 2021 resulted in the issuance of a visa. The program has grown partly in response to current U.S. domestic workers finding jobs outside of U.S. agriculture and a drop in newly arrived immigrants who seek U.S. farm jobs. The H-2A program continued to expand in FY 2020 despite the jump in U.S. unemployment caused by lockdowns associated with the Coronavirus pandemic. Nationally, the average H-2A contract in FY 2020 offered 24 weeks of employment and an average hourly wage of $13.

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