There were fewer hired workers employed on farms across the U.S. this year compared with 2016, but wages have gone up, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service released its Farm Labor report on Thursday, which showed a dip in the national number of hired people working on farms in January and April.

Hired workers are anyone, other than an agricultural service worker, who is paid for at least one hour of agricultural work on a farm or ranch. This includes field and livestock workers as well as supervisors, inspectors, breeders and pesticide handlers, among others.

There were 4 percent fewer people hired directly by farm operators from April 9 to 15 than there were in 2016 during the same reference week, according to the report. In January, the number of hired workers was also down 8 percent from last year.

Hired workers across the U.S. were making $13.23 per hour in April 2017, which is up 4 percent from last year. The survey showed that hired workers overall worked equal hours in April 2016 and April 2017.

Maryland is a part of the Northeast II region, which includes Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Data is collected by the region.

All hired workers in Northeast II made 25 cents less per hour than the national average during April.

Livestock workers were paid less than field workers in the region in April 2017, but their wages went up, while field workers wages went down from April 2016.

Overall, hired workers in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania saw their wages decrease 16 cents in April 2017 compared to April 2016.

Despite the decrease in wages, Northeast II, part of the Southeast and Florida, had the largest increase in number of hired workers between the 2016 and 2017 April reference weeks, according to the report.

There were a total of 40,000 hired workers reported in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania during the reference week in April.

A majority of the hired workers, 33,000, had been employed for 150 days or more, and only 7,000 had been employed for fewer than 149 days in Northeast II.

Meanwhile, the Cornbelt region — made up of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio — had a 23 percent decline in hired workers between the April 2016 and April 2017 reference weeks.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

Samantha Hogan is the state house, environment, agriculture and energy reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

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