Thursday, January 28, 2010

Capital Press: State Economists Say Ag Employment Holds Steady

From Capital Press, "The West's Ag website."
While anecdotes of high rural unemployment have abounded during the depressed economy, state numbers suggest ag sector employment isn't suffering as much as other industries.
That's despite some losses of ag jobs -- most notably in California's Central Valley, where water scarcity has resulted in some 300,000 acres of fallowed land while the state's water politics have roiled with images of unemployed workers waiting in food lines.
But state numbers support the argument that rural unemployment emanates from other industries -- especially those, like construction, that employ large numbers of immigrants. Many unemployed workers settle in agricultural towns hoping to find farm work, boosting the area's apparent unemployment.
California's numbers don't show any distinct trends up or down in ag employment. Patrick Joyce, a spokeswoman for California's Employment Development Department, said the state tracks ag employment the same way it does other sectors, using employer surveys to produce estimates...
An annual average of monthly farm employment in 2009 shows 389,225 people working in agriculture, down from 390,850 in 2008. That's a drop of less than 1 percent.

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