AS agriculture is organized in the United States most of the work on the farm is done by the farmer and his family, and hired help, if employed at all, is only occasional, as in the harvest season. Just how many farmers have regular hired hands and how many have not is unrecorded. It is known, however, that the number of farmers, 6,201,261 in 1920, exceeded, and probably still exceeds, the number of farm laborers. Of the latter, 4,041,627 were enumerated in 1920, but of these, 1,850,119 worked upon the home farm, and were not presumably all wage earners in the usual sense of the term. In 1920, the ratio of farm laborers to farmers was 1 to 1.5, which marked a considerable decrease in the number of farm laborers from 1910. In that year the number of farmers was 5,979,340, and the number of farm laborers 6,069,321, equivalent to a ratio of 1 of the latter to 0.9 of the former. The change in the ratio is largely explained by the conditions of the enumeration. That of 1920 was taken on January 1, a time when farming activity is at its lowest ebb, while the census of 1910, as of April 15, fell at a period when the spring plowing and planting in many parts of the country provided more work on the farms.
It is sufficient to cite these few figures to make it plain that in agriculture a very different labor situation arises than is found in the manufacturing industries. Rarely is any considerable number of wage earners employed in the same enterprise. The relation of the farmer to his hired hand is of necessity more personal and less one of contract than in other lines of production. In some degree the more or less patriarchal, familiar relations which are supposed to have characterized all employment before the advent of machinery and mechanical motor power still prevail in agriculture.