An Analysis of Farmworker's Problems During The Great Depression and Today

Farmworker life and occupation have shown a disturbing trend of poverty and poor health. A farmworker’s daily life on the fields begins at the average age of 8 in some of the most hazardous conditions, whereas in other sectors, children are strictly forbidden from even working. In this chart, you can see that though there were some regulations and restrictions, they were very poorly enforced and vaguely defined. Therefore, the mortality and impairment frequency rate of these children was significantly higher.

This also may have impacted their schooling and education negatively. To follow work, the farm workers were often shuttled in illegal conditions by FLC transports. The picture shows the overcrowding cattle-like transport of the migrant class, which contributed to the high death rate. The average longevity of a farmworker has consistently been much shorter. The graph shows the average lifespan of the US workforce compared to the farmworker, up to nearly 25 years shorter. This shorter life span is due to several factors, such as pesticides and poor health overall, leading to cancerous lesions, birth defects in babies, and decreasing quality of life.

Their long work days ranged from 12 hours on average to life-threatening extremes. Farmworkers were also subject to exploitation as a result of their poor education and vulnerability. Their pay was often withheld, were given inadequate housing, and lived a life of difficulty.

Migration and Movements

From the time of the Great Depression and even today, immigrants are continuously deported from the country as per the needs of the American-born and bred citizens.

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Many illegal programs forced people in and out of the country against their free will, deporting even legal citizens. Today, some forgiveness programs have made efforts to reach out and help these victims. Of those people who migrated of their own accord, they were lured by the promise of the stigma of the American Dream, often trying to escape hardship at home. Some of the factors are listed here on this chart.

Great Depression/Dust Bowl

The great depression was an economic crisis that threw the country into turmoil. As farmers were often unable to afford their land many were forced to sell their plots to become migrants themselves. Many traveled to California to try to find work. Of those that migrated successfully, they nearly doubled California’s population and decreased the middle US population in comparison. This graph details a trend of the population census by the decade in California. The spike during this period is prominent. The dust bowl created dry conditions that ravaged farmlands, much worse than today’s drought. The maps compare the drought index of the march of this year and the time of the dust bowl. This also added to the increase in migrant populations. These migrants were often without housing scavenging materials to create shelters to survive.


Noncitizen workers were constantly under the threat of deportation. The map shows a few routes of deportations over the years. They all came from different countries around the world, but a majority of the population was from Mexico, with Latin America a close second at 22% at 13% respectively. They also made up an unproportionate percent of migrant poverty. Their conditions were generally just plain worse comparatively.

Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez was a rights activist who made efforts to help the farmworkers, forming the UFW or UAF, he used peaceable protests, hunger fasts, and marches to raise wages, and healthcare issues, and provide them with basic protections.


Many issues are still present. Though reforms are ongoing, they simply aren’t enough. Wage theft is still rampant and protections are not widespread or enforced. The map shows that the majority of states have no minimum wage or overtime guarantee and those that do may not be enforced effectively. This graph shows that a majority of farmworker wages also are diverted to the small grower population rather than the large farmworker populations. Agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous jobs, providing workers with little workplace rights. Many farmworkers are still undereducated, with an average education of 7th grade. Noncriminal immigrants are also deported on no basis, just on the preference of the government. Many who are allowed to stay live well below the poverty line. These people are unknown and ignored by the government and the general population. They toil day and night to survive and deserve to be recognized.

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An Analysis of Farmworker's Problems During The Great Depression and Today. (2022, Aug 07). Retrieved from

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