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The National Agricultural Workers Survey

The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) is an employment-based, random- sample survey of U.S. crop workers that collects demographic, employment, and health data in face-to-face interviews.  The survey began in Federal Fiscal Year (FY) 1989; since then over 56,000 workers have been interviewed.  The survey's findings are made available through periodic research reports and a NAWS public access data (NAWSPAD) file.

This site contains information about the survey and the NAWSPAD file.  It covers the following topics:

 

Purposes and Uniqueness of the NAWS

The primary purposes of the NAWS are to monitor the terms and conditions of agricultural employment and assess the conditions of farm workers.  The survey also generates information for various Federal agencies that oversee farm worker programs.

The NAWS is unique for its broad coverage of the characteristics of hired crop workers and their dependents and its nearly year-round interviewing schedule.  Data are collected throughout the year, over three cycles, to reflect the seasonality of agricultural production and employment. The NAWS differs from other Federal worker surveys in that:  1) workers are interviewed at their workplaces rather than at home; 2) only currently employed persons are sampled; and 3) data is collected directly from farm workers.

 

Data Uses

NAWS findings are used for many purposes, including occupational injury and health surveillance, estimating the number and characteristics of farm workers and their dependents, and program planning.  Additional information on how NAWS findings are used is available in Part A of the Paperwork Reduction Act Supporting Statement for this survey.

 

Data Limitations

  • The NAWS interviews farm workers who are currently working in agriculture.  Farm workers who have been out of work for over a year are not included in the sampling frame.
  • Due to the relatively small sample, at least two years of data should be combined for national-level analyses and four years of data should be combined for regional-level analyses.
  • Except for California, the data are not available at the state level.
  • The health condition variables report diagnoses over the life of the respondent and may not represent health conditions at the time of interview.  Work-relatedness was not assessed for the health conditions.
  • To safeguard respondent privacy, data on the location of the interview is not included in the NAWSPAD file, so the primary sampling unit cannot be reported.  Data users needing primary sampling unit data for statistical analysis, e.g., producing design-corrected standard errors, should contact Mr.  Daniel Carroll:  Research Team, Division of Research and Evaluation, Office of Policy Development and Research, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210; e-mail: carroll.daniel.j@dol.gov; phone: (202) 693-2795.

 

Other Farm Labor Information Sources

In addition to the NAWS, there are several other Federal sources of agricultural employment and farm labor data:

 

NAWS Survey Documentation

 

Sampling Universe

The NAWS is a survey of hired workers who are currently employed in crop and crop-related work.  To be interviewed, workers must be hired by an eligible establishment and working at an eligible task.  Eligible establishments are those classified in the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) as Crop Production (NAICS code 111) or as Support Activities for Crop Production (NAICS code 1151).  NAICS 111 comprises establishments such as farms, orchards, groves, greenhouses, and nurseries that are primarily engaged in growing crops, plants, vines, or trees and their seeds.  NAICS 1151 includes establishments primarily engaged in providing support activities for growing crops.  Examples of support activities include supplying labor, aerial dusting or spraying, cotton ginning, cultivating services, farm management services, planting crops, and vineyard cultivation services.

Eligible tasks include work in all phases of crop production (pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest), as well as supervising workers, operating machinery, and packing crops.  Workers who pack crops, however, are interviewed only if the packing facility at which they are employed is on or adjacent to the sampled crop producer, and the facility is owned by and primarily packs crops for that producer.

The NAWS sampling universe does not include:

  • persons employed at eligible establishments who do not perform crop-related work, such as secretaries or mechanics, unless such workers also perform crop-related work; and
  • crop workers with an H-2A visa (a temporary-employment visa for foreign agricultural workers).

 

NAWS Sampling Regions and Sample Size

Workers are sampled from 12 regions, which are aggregated from 17 USDA-designated regions.  In the NAWSPAD file, these 12 regions have been collapsed into six regions .

Depending on the information needs and resources of the various Federal agencies that use NAWS data, between 1,500 and 3,600 workers are interviewed each year.

Table 1 lists the NAWSPAD regions and the states in each region.  Table 2 shows the number of interviews by fiscal year and region.

Table 1.  NAWSPAD Regions and the States

Region No.

Region Name

States Represented

1

EAST

North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania

2

SOUTHEAST

Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida

3

MIDWEST

Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin

4

SOUTHWEST

Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas

5

NORTHWEST

Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington

6

CALIFORNIA

California

 

Table 2.  Number of Interviews by Fiscal Year and Region, 1989-2012

FY

Region 1
East

Region 2
Southeast

Region 3
Midwest

Region 4
Southwest

Region 5
Northwest

Region 6
California

Total

1989

311

504

322

269

324

796

2,526

1990

149

571

58

300

230

810

2,118

1991

149

731

88

321

279

1,032

2,600

1992

147

552

87

235

201

674

1,896

1993

423

351

442

248

265

664

2,393

1994

478

320

454

221

290

611

2,374

1995

347

306

411

237

354

708

2,363

1996

264

371

306

242

277

591

2,051

1997

338

397

257

242

264

602

2,100

1998

319

428

262

236

262

592

2,099

1999

569

487

546

239

489

1,282

3,612

2000

383

603

440

223

528

1,409

3,586

2001

414

548

393

177

417

1,162

3,111

2002

445

585

478

224

431

1,198

3,361

2003

464

616

499

266

477

1,263

3,585

2004

413

519

455

171

407

1,081

3,046

2005

314

337

374

118

314

770

2,227

2006

176

300

196

116

196

535

1,519

2007

197

294

176

100

193

551

1,511

2008

316

407

211

142

265

841

2,182

2009

275

392

232

162

337

821

2,219

2010

202

299

126

109

192

544

1,472

2011

181

146

175

114

315

589

1,520

2012

205

174

218

105

209

594

1,505

Total

7,479

10,238

7,206

4,817

7,516

19,720

56,976

 

Coverage of Migrant and Seasonal Workers

Both migrant and seasonal crop workers are sampled in the NAWS.  Recognizing that there are several federal and state definitions for migrant and seasonal workers, the NAWSPAD file contains a number of variables that allow analysts to use varying definitions of 'migrant' and 'seasonal.'

The use of an employer-based sample rather than a household-based sample increases the likelihood that migrant workers will be interviewed in the NAWS.  In addition, the survey is designed to capture workers engaged in seasonal agricultural tasks by conducting interviews over three cycles.

The NAWSPAD file includes a variable that indicates whether a respondent meets the NAWS definition of a migrant worker, which is a worker who traveled a distance of more than 75 miles between two farm jobs or between a farm job and a usual residence during the past year.

 

Frequency of Data-Collection

NAWS data have been collected continuously since FY 1989.  To account for the seasonality of agricultural production and employment, interviews are conducted throughout the year over three interviewing cycles.  The NAWSPAD file includes a variable that identifies the fiscal year (October through September) during which the data were collected, but not the month.

 

Questionnaire Development and Domains, and the Current Questionnaire

Most of the survey's core questions on demographic and employment characteristics have remained the same since the survey's inception.  Supplemental questions, however, are often added to the NAWS to obtain data requested by Federal agencies.  Since FY 1999, there have been supplemental questions on occupational injuries, musculoskeletal problems, respiratory health, exposure to pesticides, access to childcare services, mental health, and other topics.  Supplemental questions are usually administered for at least two years.

The survey's core questions include the following:

Demographic Characteristics of the Respondent and Household:  Using a household grid, the interviewer records basic demographic information about the respondent and all household members, including age, gender, relationship to respondent, place of birth, education level, and the month and year the worker first entered the United States (if foreign-born).  Respondents report their race and ethnicity, primary language, and ability to read and speak English.

Employment and Migration:  Using a work grid, the interviewer compiles a 12-month retrospective employment and migration profile that covers the primary crop and farm task, type of non-agricultural work if employed off the farm, periods of unemployment, and time spent outside of the United States.  Interviewers determine where the respondent was during every week of the previous year.

Earnings, Benefits, and Worksite Characteristics:  The NAWS collects information on hourly earnings, including payment method (piece or hourly), monetary bonuses and insurance benefits (health insurance, workers' compensation and unemployment insurance), and availability of water and toilets at the worksite.

Health, Safety, and Housing:  The NAWS gathers information on medical history, use of health services, safety training, and the location and type of housing, including whether the respondent rents from the employer or a non-employer, owns the home, etc.

Income and Assets, Social Services, and Legal Status:  Respondents are asked a series of questions on personal and family income, assets in and outside of the United States, use of social services, and legal status.

English and Spanish versions of the current questionnaire are available here:

 

Sampling Frame, Sample Design, and Interview Method

The NAWS interviews workers where they are employed.  The sampling frame of establishments (usually farms) engaged in Crop Production (NAICS 111) and Support Activities for Crop Production (NAICS 1151) is constructed primarily from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW):  a census of establishments that participate in the unemployment insurance (UI) program.  In states where UI coverage is not universal, the sampling frame is supplemented with farm establishments drawn from commercial lists of agricultural employers, administrative data sources, internet searches, and discussions with local, knowledgeable sources.

Interviews are conducted with a national probability sample of workers employed in crop agriculture.  Multi-stage sampling is implemented to account for seasonal and regional fluctuations in the level of farm employment.  To capture seasonal fluctuations in the agricultural work force, the sampling year is divided into three interviewing cycles.  For each cycle, there are six levels of selection:

  • region;
  • single counties or groupings of counties called farm labor areas (FLA), which constitute the primary sampling unit;
  • county
  • ZIP Code™ region;
  • employer; and
  • respondent.

In every cycle, in each region, a random sample of FLAs is selected from a roster that is constructed from the universe of FLAs using probabilities proportional to the size of a given FLA's seasonal farm labor expenditures.  Similarly, the number of interviews allocated to each FLA is proportional to the amount of labor expenditures in the FLA during the cycle, which is seasonally adjusted using QCEW employment data.

In the penultimate sampling stage, a simple random sample of agricultural employers is selected from a list of employers compiled from the QCEW and supplemented by local searches, as described above.  Once the sample of employers is drawn, interviewers contact the selected growers or contractors to obtain access to the work site.

Workers are sampled at their farm job sites.  Randomly-selected workers are interviewed at the worksite, either before or after work.  Respondents may also be interviewed at another location if that is more convenient.

Further information on the survey's sampling design is available in the Statistical Methods of the National Agricultural Workers Survey.

 

Public Data Content and File Formats

The 1989-2012 NAWSPAD file contains information from 56,976 in-person interviews with hired crop farm workers.  The interviews were conducted in 545 counties and 43 states during fiscal years 1989-2012 (October 1, 1988 to September 30, 2012).  The file includes 226 questionnaire variables and 113 summary and analytic variables.  The spreadsheet NAWSPAD Variables and Labels 2012 lists the variables and their labels.  There are three tabs in the spreadsheet, one each for the complete set of variables, the created variables only, and the questionnaire variables only.

Note that the number of created and questionnaire variables in the spreadsheet sums to 342, which is three more than the actual number of unique variables (339).  This is because three variables (FWID, FY, and PWTYCRD) are listed in both the created variables and questionnaire variables tabs.

The data include the following:

  • responses to questions on demographics, employment, and health;
  • summary variables on household composition that have been tabulated from the questionnaire's family grid;
  • summary variables on employment history that have been tabulated from the questionnaire's 12-month work grid; and
  • analytical variables that are commonly used in analyses of NAWS data.

To protect respondent privacy, detailed information from the household and work grids, and responses to some questions, including the date and season of interview, are not available in the NAWSPAD file.  In addition, the region where the respondent was interviewed and the primary crop and task he/she was engaged in at the time of the interview are only reported in summary categories.

The 1989-2012 NAWSPAD file supports the questionnaire that was administered in FY 2012. Data from discontinued questions are not included in the NAWSPAD file.

The NAWSPAD file is currently available in three formats: SAS, Microsoft Excel, and CSV (comma separated values) for MS-DOS compatible computers and Macintosh computers.

 

Public Data Codebook and Questionnaire

The NAWSPAD codebook contains information on the number of observations for each response code by two-year periods, i.e., 1989-1990, 1991-1992, etc., through 2011-2012. Variables in the codebook match those in the questionnaire that was administered in FY 2012
(see the cycle 73 English and Spanish questionnaires).

The FY 2012 questionnaire, codebook, and NAWSPAD Variables and Labels 2012 spreadsheet should be reviewed prior to analyzing data.

 

Survey Weights and Data Analysis

Sampling and post-sampling weights are used in the NAWS to adjust the relative value of each interview so that population estimates may be obtained from the sample.  The composite weight variable, PWTYCRD, is included in the NAWSPAD file; it should be used in all analyses to generate unbiased estimates.  For example, to obtain the percentages of male and female crop workers in fiscal years 2011-2012, the following SAS statement, which uses the WEIGHT command, could be implemented:

proc freq data=(name of data file);
table GENDER;
where 2011 le FY le 2012;
weight PWTYCRD;
run;

For a fuller explanation of the weights, please consult pages 6-13 of the Statistical Methods of the National Agricultural Workers Survey.

The NAWSPAD file includes 24 years of cross-sectional data that can be used for trend analysis. Although the survey's content has changed over time, most of the survey's core variables on the demographic and employment characteristics of hired crop workers have not changed significantly.  When changes have occurred, variables have been harmonized to facilitate trend analysis.

The NAWS sample size fluctuates from 1,500 to 3,600 a year.  The NAWSPAD weight variable (PWTYCRD) includes a factor that correctly proportions the annual data so that it can be analyzed over time.

The NAWSPAD file's collapsed geographic variable (Region6) identifies the region where respondents were interviewed.  There are six regions:  East, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, Northwest, and California.  At least four years of data should be combined for regional-level analyses and at least two years of data should be combined for national-level analysis.

Due to the survey's complex sampling design, a special analysis procedure is needed to generate
survey-design-corrected standard errors.  The procedure used in SAS, which is discussed in the statistical methods document, requires the variable for the primary sampling units (PSU). The PSU variable, however, is not included in the NAWSPAD file for confidentiality reasons.  Researchers who need design-corrected standard errors are encouraged to contact Mr. Daniel Carroll:  Research Team, Division of Research and Evaluation, Office of Policy Development and Research, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210; e-mail: carroll.daniel.j@dol.gov; phone: (202) 693-2795.

 

Public Data Files

Data for 1989-2012 are available in SAS, Microsoft Excel, and CSV (comma separated values) format for MS-DOS compatible computers and Macintosh computers.  The SAS files, which have been compressed to facilitate downloading, can be read into other data analysis programs, such as SPSS and STATA.  The Windows operating system comes with software for decompressing (unzipping) files.  UNIX/LINUX distributions also come with decompressing software.  Further guidance for opening a compressed file is available here: http://www.wikihow.com/Open-a-.Zip-File-Without-Winzip.

NAWSPAD files in Excel and CSV formats

The file naming convention for the Excel and CSV files begins with "NAWS", followed by a separator, "_"; which is followed by three letters and the number, "173", which conveys interview cycles 1 through 73.  For example, the file "NAWS_A2E173" contains the created and questionnaire variables in alphabetical order from "A" through "E" covering the period 1989 through 2012, corresponding to interview cycles 1 through 73, while the file "NAWS_F2Y173" contains the created and questionnaire variables in alphabetical order from "F" through "Y" covering the period 1989 through 2012.  Both files contain a unique respondent identifier (FWID), the fiscal year during which the data were collected (FY), and the weight variable (PWTYCRD).

The variable FWID is a unique identifier for each observation in the data file.  Users who download the "NAWS_A2E173" and "NAWS_F2Y173" files will need to merge the two files using the unique identifier, FWID.

NAWSPAD files in SAS

There are five SAS files available for download.  The file "CRTD173pub" contains the created variables, unique respondent identifier (FWID), the fiscal year during which the data were collected (FY), and the weight variable (PWTYCRD).

The file "NAWS173PUB" contains the questionnaire variables, unique respondent identifier (FWID), the fiscal year during which the data were collected (FY), and the weight variable (PWTYCRD).

The file "NAWS_ALL" contains the created and questionnaire variables, unique respondent identifier (FWID), the fiscal year during which the data were collected (FY), and the weight variable (PWTYCRD).

The files "NAWS_A2E173" and "NAWS_F2Y173" contain the created and questionnaire variables in alphabetical order from "A" through "E" and "F" through "Y", respectively, covering the period 1989 through 2012.

File Format

File Name

File Size (MB)

Link to download

 

 

 

 

SAS

NAWS_ALL

Compressed: 11.4

NAWS173PUB

Compressed: 6.37

CRTD173PUB

Compressed: 4.77

NAWS_A2E173

Compressed: 7.0

NAWS_F2Y173

Compressed: 4.5

 

 

 

CSV for MS-DOS Compatible Computers

NAWS_A2E173

Compressed: 3.84

Unzipped: 18.7

NAWS_F2Y173

Compressed: 2.45

Unzipped: 17.0

 

 

 

 

CSV for Macintosh Computers

NAWS_A2E173

Compressed: 3.83

Unzipped:18.6

NAWS_F2Y173

Compressed: 2.45

Unzipped: 7.0

 

 

 

 

Excel

NAWS_A2E173

Compressed: 9.53

Unzipped: 43.7

NAWS_F2Y173

Compressed: 6.56

Unzipped: 45.7

 

Data Tables

In coordination with the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Health Resources and Services Administration, JBS International, Inc., Aguirre Division (ETA's contractor for the NAWS) developed 22 tables, graphs, and summaries of NAWS data from fiscal years 1999-2010.  The data, which are presented in two-year intervals, i.e., 1999-2000, 2001-2002, etc. through 2009-2010, highlight health variables that were collected for NIOSH.

The information resides at http://naws.jbsinternational.com.

For questions about the information presented in these tables, graphs and summaries, please contact Mr.  Daniel Carroll, Research Team, Division of Research and Evaluation, Office of Policy Development and Research, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210; e-mail: carroll.daniel.j@dol.gov; phone: (202) 693-2795.

 

Confidential Safeguards

The NAWSPAD file was constructed under two guiding principles:  1) to protect the privacy rights of the farm worker respondents and the agricultural employers at whose establishments the workers were interviewed; and 2) to provide a data set that allows in-depth analysis of the demographic and employment characteristics of hired crop workers at both the regional and national level.

The names and addresses of employers and respondents are not included in the full NAWS data file or the NAWSPAD file.   Additional safeguards were taken with the NAWSPAD file:  the variables 'crop' and 'task' were collapsed into five and six categories, respectively; the 12 sampling regions were collapsed into six analysis regions; and the season of interview variable 'cycle' is not included in the file.

 

Publications

NAWS findings are disseminated via periodic research reports, including the following:

  1. Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 1990: A Demographic and Employment Profile of Perishable Crop Farm Workers. U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Program Economics, Research Report No. 1. July 1991.
  2. Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 1989: A Demographic and Employment Profile of Perishable Crop Farm Workers. U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Program Economics, Research Report No. 2. November 1991.
  3. California Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey: A Demographic and Employment Profile of Perishable Crop Farm Workers. U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Program Economics, Research Report No. 3. 1993.
  4. U.S. Farmworkers in the Post-IRCA Period, Based on Data from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS). U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Program Economics, Research Report No. 4. March 1993.
  5. Migrant Farmworkers: Pursuing Security in an Unstable Labor Market. Based on Data from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS). U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Program Economics, Research Report No. 5. May 1994.
  6. A PROFILE OF U.S. FARMWORKERS: Demographics, Household Composition, Income and Use of Services. U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Program Economics, Research Report No. 6. April 1997.
  7. Who Works on California Farms? Demographic and Employment Findings From The National Agricultural Workers Survey. U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Program Economics, NAWS Report No. 7. 1998.
  8. Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS): A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farmworkers. U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Program Economics, Research Report No. 8. March 2000.
  9. Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 2001 - 2002.
    A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farm Workers. U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Programmatic Policy, Research Report No. 9. March 2005.

 

For Additional Information

To order reports or inquire about the survey, please contact:
Mr.  Daniel Carroll
Research Team, Division of Research and Evaluation
Office of Policy Development and Research, Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
e-mail: carroll.daniel.j@dol.gov
phone: (202) 693-2795



Media Inquiries

Media inquiries should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs' press officer for ETA:
Mr.  Egan Reich
e-mail: Reich.egan@dol.gov
phone: (202) 693-4960