The U.S. Department of Agriculture has signaled that the minimum wage for guest workers under the H-2A visa program is going up by about 5 percent, according to a report by the Capital Press newspaper (Salem, Oregon).
H-2A program employers must, at a minimum, pay all of their workers what’s known as the adverse effect wage rate, or AEWR, for their state. This rate is higher than the state’s minimum wage. It is intended to prevent the use of guest workers from reducing wages in any given region.
The AEWR is based on a USDA survey of prevailing field and livestock worker wages. In Oregon and Washington, the AEWR is expected to change from $15.03 to $15.83 per hour, an increase of 5.32 percent. That will be $1.84 more than the projected national average rate of $13.99 per hour.
Some farm advocates have said these rates are not affordable for employers. The National Council for Agricultural Employers (NCAE) sued the U.S. Department of Labor to prevent last year’s AEWR increase, but lost in U.S. District Court. An appeal is pending. » Read more