Employee Rosters Rise; Wages Continue To Climb

  • James B. Kliebenstein (Iowa State University)
  • Terrance Hurley (University of Minnesota)
  • Peter F. Orazem (Iowa State University)
  • Dale Miller (National Hog Farmer)
  • Steve May (National Hog Farmer)


A survey of pig producers and employees was conducted to document trends in the industry. These surveys have been conducted four times: 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005. Trends show that pig production operation sizes are increasing leading to an increase in the number of employees. Between 1990 and 2005 the average number of full-time employees per operation increased from 2.9 to 8.8; an increase of 20.3 percent.

The wages of employees rose between 1990 and 2005 and wage discrepancies widened also. The average wage in the pork industry increased from $19,847 in 1990 to $35,718 in 2005, an 80 percent increase. The average wage increased by 23.5 percent between 1990 and 1995 by 26.1 percent between 1995 and 2000, and by 15.4 percent between 2000 and 2001. The average civilian wage increased by about 61 percent during the 1990–2005 time period. While the average wage growth over the past 15 years is good news for the industry employees, wage growth in the industry between 2000 and 2005 is not as encouraging; 15.4 percent for pork industry employees versus 21.2 percent for the average civilian worker. The industry has lost some of the wage gains it had during the 1990s.

Men in the pork sector have enjoyed higher wages than women while wage growth was greater for women over the 1990–2005 time period. However, during the 2000–2005 time period wage growth for women dipped below that for men. Employees with a four-year college degree had a stronger than average wage growth. Wage growth for employees with a two-year college degree or less grew at a rate below the industry average.

Between 2000 and 2005 the pay scale for managers was the highest (average of $38,060), followed by assistant managers (average of $33,115), then farrowing managers (average of $30,780), and herdsmen (average of $29,400).

The percent of employees receiving bonuses and incentive pay declined from 57.4 percent in 2000 to 54.8 percent in 2005. There was a decline in the percent of employees receiving pig death loss bonuses. Benefits received by employees appear to be stable to declining during the 2000–2005 time period. A growth area of benefits has been in the pension and retirement benefit area.

Keywords: ASL R2167

How to Cite:

Kliebenstein, J. B., Hurley, T., Orazem, P. F., Miller, D. & May, S., (2006) “Employee Rosters Rise; Wages Continue To Climb”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 3(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ans_air-180814-763

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Published on
01 Jan 2006
Peer Reviewed