A Shortage of Migrant Farm Workers

Dean Baker listens to NPR so we don’t have to:

NPR had a piece this morning warning of a shortage of agricultural workers in California. It reported that some crops may rot in the field, if farmers there can’t get more workers by the end of the summer. Those of us who believe in markets would suggest that the farmers try raising wages. It is possible that some of the crops being farmed now in California would not be profitable, if farmers had to pay the wage necessary to attract workers in the current market (or if they had to pay the market price for water). In a market economy, that means that the farmers made bad choices on crop choices. That’s unfortunate for the farmers, but that’s how markets work.

First of all – my apologies for my opening snark as I’m a loyal NPR listener. But Dean is right – the market solution to a labor shortage is higher wages. But consider this discussion in light of the move on behalf of some to toss immigrants out of the country. If their efforts succeed, we’d have fewer agricultural workers in California, which would mean an even larger wage increase.