January 3, 2019

H-2A Wage Rates to Rise on January 9, 2019

On December 26, 2018, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the Department of Labor (Department) issued its Federal Register Notice to announce the 2019 Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs). This notice applies to the employment of temporary or seasonal nonimmigrant foreign workers (H–2A workers) to perform agricultural labor or services.

AEWRs are the minimum wage rates the Department has determined must be offered and paid by employers to H–2A workers and workers in corresponding employment for a particular occupation and area so that the wages of similarly employed U.S. workers will not be adversely affected. The new AEWRs are effective January 9, 2019.

After two years of successive declines, the Arizona AEWR has jumped again, from $10.46 (effectively $10.50 under the state’s 2018 minimum wage) to $12.00 per hour.

California’s AEWR goes to $13.92, up from $13.18 per hour. After enjoying a drop last year, Colorado employers will be among three states to see the largest percentage increase in the country (22.8%), up from $10.69 to $13.13 per hour. New Mexico H-2A users will see a jump from $10.46 to $12.00 per hour.

California employers currently under an H-2A contract will have to increase the minimum wage rates loaded into their payroll systems for workers now in the field effective January 9. 

Western Growers is helping to support the efforts of the National Council of Agricultural Employers to pursue litigation that would  “pause” the AEWR increase, and direct an interagency study of the underlying issues of whether there is an adverse effect on domestic workers due to utilization of H-2A workers, and if so, what measures might be justified to address it. 

If your company will suffer severe economic harm from the increased AEWR and you would like to have your story included in the court filing, please send to Jason Resnick a statement on your company letterhead detailing the negative impact to your businesses should these wage increases be implemented. 

Since 2005, Western Growers has provided members with turnkey H-2A labor services. If you would like more information about Western Growers Labor Services or the H-2A program in general, please contact Jason Resnick, Vice president and General Counsel.