I sometimes think that, in trying to understand the impacts of drought, we pay too much attention to the water numbers. It’s not that it doesn’t matter how much is in the reservoir, or is being pumped from the ground, but it’s only the first link in the chain of impacts.
California economist Jeff Michael points us to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which provides a relatively reliable and quick measure of employment impacts in the agricultural sectors, which is one area we would expect to see a societal response to drought. Here’s Jeff’s latest on the data, showing continued employment growth in California farm sector in spite of four years of horrendous drought:
For a number of years, the largest growth in farm jobs has been in the winter months rather than the peak summer months. It suggests there is some restructuring going on in the seasonal patterns of the labor market, probably caused by the increasing number of permanent crops. It could also reflect a tighter labor market which makes employers (in all industries) less willing to layoff workers during slack times.
What adaptive capacity looks like.