While not many in the cotton industry use H-2A its use seems to be increasing amongst gins in recent years. Late in 2020, the Trump administration froze the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) for calendar year 2021 and changed the way wages for H-2A workers were to be calculated. Before the ink was dry, the rule was the subject of a law suit and stopped.
With that change in rule, the USDA had also announced that it was ceasing the wage survey that was used to calculate the AEWR. When the rule was stopped, the court ordered USDA to publish its annual report of wages by February 11. That report was released yesterday on time for the court order. Some very smart people have developed an estimate of the expected new AEWR which will be released later in February. Below you will find a table of the estimated AEWR for the southeastern states. I know it’s a shocker but all of the rates will be increasing in 2021. Please understand this is only an ESTIMATE based on past calculations using the newly released data. These are NOT the official numbers and will likely change a bit but not much.
The Southeastern states have smallest increases in the US. AL, GA and SC have increases of .85%. Florida has an increase of 3.16% expected and NC and VA H-2A employers should prepare for an increase of about 3.79%. Nationally, the average wage is expected to increase to $14.28 or a 4.3% change.