"We have 100 fewer people this year," said Sergio Diaz, who provides workers under contract for growers. "We're having difficulty finding people to do this work."
The lack of workers is forcing farmers to pay more. In one of Underwood's fields, pickers are harvesting peppers for $9.25 a hour, or $5 a bucket, whichever is more. Craig Underwood said his workforce is aging and starting to retire, and no one is coming in to replace them....
When asked if any local residents have come out to apply to work in the fields, Craig Underwood replied, "None. Absolutely none." He is even having trouble finding truck drivers and other semi-skilled labor for jobs that pay $12-$18 an hour.Now, this is in California's Central Valley, where the cost of living is nothing like San Francisco or Los Angeles. A rate of $9.25 per hour isn't great, but if you are a teenager, that's about what you would expect to make at McDonald's. Or perhaps you have recently received a graduate degree in philosophy, or puppetry, or transgendered cultural studies.
And if employers can't find semi-skilled labor at $12-$18 per hour, that tells me that there is no unemployment problem there anymore. Right? Or am I missing something?