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Potential Impacts of a Pandemic on the US Farm Labor Market

Diane Charlton and Marcelo Castillo

Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 2021, vol. 43, issue 1, 39-57

Abstract: An outbreak of COVID‐19 among farmworkers could have significant impacts on the workers, agricultural producers, and the consumers. Farmers are implementing new labor management practices to slow the spread of the virus among workers. Since immigration is temporarily restricted, farmers may have difficulty securing a sufficient workforce. We test whether changes in the unemployment rate affected H‐2A guest worker demand before the pandemic and find a statistically significant negative impact. Nevertheless, we expect that H‐2A recruitment will be vital to sustaining agricultural production. We conclude by discussing potential long‐term impacts of the pandemic on farm labor supply and demand.

Date: 2021
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