The total number of workers hired by Florida farms and agricultural service operations during the survey week of Jan. 9-15 was 53,000. Farms hired 45,000 workers, 2,000 more than the previous quarter, but 3,000 less than a year ago. Agricultural service operations provided 8,000 workers, 5,000 more than last quarter and 1,000 more than a year earlier.

Florida had record setting freezing temperatures and little precipitation during the reference week. Unseasonably cold temperatures averaged four to 14 degrees below normal.

Harvesting of vegetables was curtailed due to cold. Shipment levels were reported below normal for this time of year.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, there was moderate to severe drought in most of Florida's citrus area. The Citrus Administrative Committee estimate of citrus fruit harvested during the survey week of 7,088,856 boxes, up from the 247,000 boxes in the October survey week, but down from the 7,556,000 boxes in the corresponding week in January 2010.

The average wage rate for workers hired by farms and agricultural service operations was $10.83 per hour, down from the $11.09 reported last quarter but up slightly from the $10.80 of last year. Farmers paid an average of $10.70 per hour, below the $11 reported last quarter and the $10.84 in January last year. Agricultural service operations paid an average of $11.50 per hour, below last quarter’s $12.20 but above the $10.50 from last year.