Friday, June 26, 2009

Prisoners vs. Farmers Revisited

Are there more prisoners than farmers in the US?

When I previously looked into it I found that:

The prison population of 2.1 million is larger than the EPA's number of 960,000 persons claiming farming as their principal occupation, the BLS's number of nearly 1.3 million farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers, or the EPA's number of 1.9 primary and secondary occupation farmers.
This USDA report gives another way to look at this. It reports the total amount of labor performed on farms by operators, spouses, unpaid workers, hired workers and contract workers. In 2004 each of the 2.1 million farms had an average of 1.59 annual person equivalents of labor (2,000 hours per person) for a total 3.2 million workers.

But, much of that work is done by people that wouldn't consider themselves farmers. A better estimate of farmers would look at the number of hours worked by just operators, hired workers and contract workers excluding retirement and lifestyle farms. Work on farms classified as retirement or lifestyle (1.2 of 2.1 million farms) accounts for 900,000 workers. Work by spouses (who likely have a job off farm and don't see themselves primarily as farmers) accounts for 12.4% of all work or 400,000 workers. The amount of labor performed by unpaid workers isn't specified, but contract and unpaid workers together comprise 16% of all work, and if 1/3 of that is from unpaid workers (the other 2/3 from contract workers) that would be 175,000 workers. Removing all retirement and lifestyle farm work, as well as all work from spouses and unpaid workers leaves 1.9 million farmers.

The 2.1 million prisoners is 2/3rds of the 3.2 million workers on farms and slightly higher than the 1.9 million farmers. Either way, it amazes me that it is even close.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Huh. Interesting. I never thought to even think about that.

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