A Portrait of Day Laborers

Drawn From County Survey

Fairfax County officials recently finished a report on their first comprehensive survey of day laborers, or jornaleros, in an attempt to assist policymakers. Here is a snapshot of laborers from the survey, which took place a year ago at sites in Herndon, Culmore, Annandale and Springfield:

* Age: The average is 32. Most day laborers are 18 to 35.

* Country of Origin: Eight in 10 laborers are from Central America (37 percent from Honduras, 26 percent from El Salvador, 17 percent from Guatemala and 2 percent from Nicaragua). About 4 percent are from Mexico, and the rest are from South America.

* Living Arrangement: Nine in 10 laborers rent a room with family or friends.

* Employment: A majority of laborers seek work five to seven days a week; most work five to eight hours a day. Most have been coming to the sites for less than a year. Most walk there.

Top Five Jobs

1. Construction.

2. Landscaping.

3. Painting.

4. Cleaning/janitorial.

5. Carpentry.

Typical Hourly Salary

1 percent earn less than $5.

5 percent earn between $5 and $6.99 an hour.

65 percent earn between $7 and $9.99 an hour.

28 percent earn between $10 and $14.99 an hour.

1 percent earn more than $15 an hour.

Top Barriers to Employment

1. Lack of English proficiency.

2. Lack of documents.

3. Lack of transportation.

4. No permanent work available.

5. Low pay.

Top Issues With Employers

1. No breaks.

2. Paid less money than agreed upon.

3. Not paid for work completed.

4. Racial discrimination.

5. Bounced paychecks.

Source: Fairfax County Department of Systems Management for Human Services