The southeastern United States has become the most important timber producing region in the country. Despite increases in productivity, questions remain regarding the industry's role in developing, or failing to develop, rural communities in many of the poorest areas of the South. This article examines the recruitment and employment of migrant and guest workers for forest management work, specifically tree planting and reforestation. Based on semi-structured interviews with 35 H2B guest workers and 18 labor contractors the article analyzes the linkages between forest management labor recruitment, poverty, local labor markets, and timber productivity in the State of Alabama. We describe the wages, working conditions, organization, and workers' perspectives on forest management work in the South. We also describe the relationship between labor contracting in the southern forest products industry and the H2B guest,workers program. We conclude with a discussion of the policy implications of an expanded guest worker program on rural communities and labor markets.

Publication Date