Raw Data: Field Worker Wages Since the Great Recession

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Apropos of nothing in particular, I got curious this morning about illegal immigration and field workers. About half of all field workers are undocumented, so if there’s been a surge of illegal immigration lately, as some have speculated, you’d expect to see the wages of field workers decline. But how would you measure that?

I’m not sure what the best approach is, but I decided to compare the wages of field workers to the wages of all nonsupervisory workers. Here’s what I got:

Relative wages for field workers were flat all through the aughts, as illegal immigration was climbing, and declined a bit during the Great Recession. However, since 2012 they’ve risen three percentage points. In 2016, field workers earned nearly 57 percent of the average nonsupervisory wage.

Based on this, I’m willing to bet that that illegal immigration hasn’t surged over the past couple of years. Just the opposite, maybe, which would be consistent with the rise in field worker wages since 2012.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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