Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nation's biggest fresh garlic producer quickly solves its labor shortage by raising wages $2 an hour

The nation's biggest producer of fresh garlic found a simple way to combat a labor shortage: offer employees better wages, Natalie Kitroeff reports for the Los Angeles Times. Christopher Ranch, which grows garlic on 5,000 acres in Gilroy, Calif. (Best Places map) found itself short 50 workers at the end of last year. So, the company announced it was raising pay from $11 to $13, with plans to go to $15 in 2018," four years earlier than what’s required by California’s schedule for minimum wage increases. It no longer has a labor shortage.

Christopher Ranch Vice President Ken Christopher "said the farm has been trying, without success, to draw new workers since 2014," Kitroeff writes. "Human resources frantically advertised open farm-labor positions, posting help-wanted ads online and urging employees to ply their networks for potential recruits. Nothing came of it."

Many blamed the labor shortage on stepped-up border enforcement by the Obama administration, which deported millions of undocumented workers; a stronger Mexican economy, and the financial crisis of 2008, which led more Mexicans to return home than migrated to the U.S. from 2009 to 2014, for the first time in decades, according to the Pew Research Center, Kitroeff reports. But once Christopher Ranch announced a wage increase, applications flooded in. "Now the company has a wait-list 150 people long."

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