Undocumented Immigration In California

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Study: Higher Salaries, Better Benefits Making Farm Work More Stable

Gary Kazanjian / AP

Field workers like Miguel Estrella scramble to pick oranges at B. Hardin Ranches before an upcoming cold front hits the west coast Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, in Ivanhoe, Calif.

Gary Kazanjian / AP

A new study finds California farm workers have become less of a migrant labor force than they had been historically. Mechanization, higher salaries, and better benefits are helping make farm workers more stable.

California's 800,000 farm workers have become more stable, and likely to stay at one or two jobs rather than move up and down the state with their families.

That marks a shift from historical patterns.

UC Davis Professor Emeritus Phillip Martin and the California Employment Development Department say many farm worker families want to stay in stable communities for housing, schools, and other benefits.

"We're seeing much more of long commutes, they may be living in Stockton but commuting at least during the season up to Napa on a daily basis, which is a fairly long daily commute," says Martin.

Martin says that since the recession fewer workers are coming across the border with Mexico so current workers are staying longer in their jobs.

The reduced flow across the border is causing some farmers to complain about a shortage.

He says about 60 percent of farm workers in California are unauthorized.

That's about 10 percent above the national average.



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Rich Ibarra

Contributing Central Valley/Foothills Reporter

As the Central Valley correspondent, Rich Ibarra covers San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties, along with the foothill areas including Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. He covers politics, the economy and issues affecting the region.   Read Full Bio 

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