Tags: farmers | farm jobs | labor | automation | mechanization

11 Million Farm Jobs Lost in U.S. During 20th Century

11 Million Farm Jobs Lost in U.S. During 20th Century
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Tuesday, 12 September 2017 11:45 AM Current | Bio | Archive

In 1910, 12,809,000 Americans were employed as farmers and farm laborers. By the end of the 20th century, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that number had fallen to 1,598,000 — a decline of 11,211,000 jobs.[1]

In 1910, these farm jobs employed 33 percent of the U.S. workforce. By the end of the century, farming accounted for only 1.2 percent of the nation’s jobs.

The job loss was brought on by early 20th century automation. The BLS says that most notable was the “replacement of horses and mules with gasoline-powered tractors of growing power and efficiency.” Other factors were “improved fertilizers and pesticides, higher yield varieties of plants and breeds of animals, improved irrigation practices, more efficient farm management, and farm consolidation.”[1]

The impact of this on the need for workers was dramatic. “From 1900 to 1997, the time required to cultivate an acre of wheat decreased from more than 2 weeks to about 2 hours, while for an acre of corn, it declined from 38 hours to 2 hours.”[1]

In addition to automation reducing the number of farm jobs, however, “rapid growth in demand for workers in other occupations, as well as higher earnings, encouraged the shift out of farming.”[1]

An earlier Number of The Day noted that "86 percent of food service jobs are at high risk of being automated by 2030. So are 75 percent of transportation and warehousing jobs; 67 percent of real estate, rental, and leasing jobs; 67 percent of retail jobs; and 62 percent of manufacturing jobs." That column cited concerns about automation eliminating jobs in the early 1960s.

A more recent Number of the Day noted the growing popularity of coding boot camps as people seek skills for other occupations offering higher earnings.

Footnotes:

  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Occupational changes during the 20th century," March 2006

Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author.

Scott Rasmussen is a Senior Fellow for the Study of Self-Governance at the King’s College in New York and an Editor-At-Large for Ballotpedia, the Encyclopedia of American Politics. His most recent book, "Politics Has Failed: America Will Not," was published by the Sutherland Institute in May.To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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In 1910, 12,809,000 Americans were employed as farmers and farm laborers. By the end of the 20th century, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that number had fallen to 1,598,000 — a decline of 11,211,000 jobs.
farmers, farm jobs, labor, automation, mechanization
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2017-45-12
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 11:45 AM
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