H-2A Labor Down
Over the last decade, when full fiscal year data is examined, the H-2A program has demonstrated steady year-over-year growth, averaging 14% each year. However, the global pandemic has led to some interesting patterns that are clearly on display when quarterly data is reviewed. As seen in Figure 1, during the first two quarters impacted by the pandemic (third and fourth quarters 2020), the number of certified positions held steady, unlike years past when the number of certified positions grew during those quarters. This can be attributed to general uncertainly about the overall economy and disturbances in the normal marketing channels for fresh produce. However, by the first and second quarters of the fiscal year 2021, more was known about COVID-19 and growers had much more confidence that their markets would be less disturbed, leading to a surge in the number of certified positions in the H-2A program. Data from the third quarter of 2021 seems to indicate that some of the on-farm catch-up work has been completed.