Farm Employment By State In 2021

A barnyard with windmill set on the South Dakota plains at Sunset. South Dakota boasts the highest … [+] proportion of farm employment, with 5.47% of all jobs being in agriculture.


The United States has changed substantially from its birth as an overwhelmingly agricultural country. Still, as of 2020, there were approximately 2,591,000 Americans participating in farm employment, equivalent to 1.4% of total employment in the country, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Naturally, farm employment varies significantly from state to state, with many having a higher share of their jobs in agriculture than the national average. Read on to find out which states have the highest and lowest proportion of their workers in farm employment.

States With the Highest Rate of Farm Employment

There are 23 states that have a higher proportion of their total employment involved in farm employment than the national average of 1.4%. These states span from the Gulf of Mexico — such as Alabama (1.58%) and Mississippi (2.41%) — to the Canadian border — such as Wisconsin (2.32%) and North Dakota (5.38%). The top 10 states with the highest rate of farm employment include:

South Dakota

  • Total employment (number of jobs): 594,556
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 32,529
  • Farm employment (share of total): 5.47%

North Dakota

  • Total employment (number of jobs): 550,696
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 29,603
  • Farm employment (share of total): 5.38%


  • Total employment (number of jobs): 1.987.117
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 89,050
  • Farm employment (share of total): 4.48%


  • Total employment (number of jobs): 668,310
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 29,468
  • Farm employment (share of total): 4.41%


  • Total employment (number of jobs): 1,285,838
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 54,090
  • Farm employment (share of total): 4.21%


  • Total employment (number of jobs): 1,052,254
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 40,813
  • Farm employment (share of total): 3.88%


  • Total employment (number of jobs): 386,291
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 14,497
  • Farm employment (share of total): 3.75%


  • Total employment (number of jobs): 2,225,399
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 81,298
  • Farm employment (share of total): 3.65%


  • Total employment (number of jobs): 1,608,843
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 56,849
  • Farm employment (share of total): 3.53%


  • Total employment (number of jobs): 1,851,247
  • Farm employment (number of jobs): 64,281
  • Farm employment (share of total): 3.47%

In several of these states, the share of total employment partaking in farm employment has risen over the last five years. For instance, in North Dakota, the share of farm employment rose from 4.98% in 2015 to 5.38% in 2020. The pandemic’s onset in 2020 certainly had an impact on employment across the country, as can be seen in the decline of total number of jobs in North Dakota from 597,642 in 2015, down to 550,696 in 2020; but farm employment only fell from 29,779 to 29,603 over the same period. This trend — a fall in total employment but rise in the share of farm employment in 2020 — can be seen in several other states, most notably: Arkansas, where total employment declined from 1,610,805 in 2015 to 1,608,843 in 2015, while farm employment rose from 52,512 to 56,849; Oklahoma, where total employment declined from 2,287,598 to 2,225,399, while farm employment rose from 52,512 to 81,298.

Other states have witnessed outright growth in farm employment over the past five years. Alaska saw farm employment grow from 1,241 in 2015 to 1,412, equal to a 13.78% increase. In Georgia, the percentage growth is lower but absolute numbers are more impressive, rising from 51,396 in 2015 to 55,990 in 2020 (8.94%). Washington state saw massive growth in farm employment, increasing from 83,469 in 2015 to 90,166 in 2020.

Farm Employment by State in 2021

Below is a table featuring all 50 states and the District of Columbia and their respective employment statistics. These include total employment, nonfarm employment, farm employment, and the share of farm employment as a percentage of total employment.