The cannabis industry is growing at dizzying speeds as new figures show industry jobs increased by almost 50% in 2018.
Manufacturers and distributors, on both the recreational and medicinal sides, created 64,389 new positions last year – up 44% from 2017 – bringing the total number of cannabis industry jobs to 211,000. On the broader spectrum including retail and support industries, some 296,000 are employed, according to the findings by Whitney Economics in conjunction with industry website Leafly.
“Amid the roiling debate over American jobs, the legal cannabis industry remains a substantial and unrecognized engine of grassroots job creation. In 2019, America’s cannabis industry is one of the nation’s greatest economic success stories. That success deserves to be recognized and celebrated,” says the report’s authors Bruce Barcott, Leafly’s deputy editor, and Whitney Economics founder Beau Whitney.
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Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the number of new job openings reached $6.9 million by July 2018, but this does not count cannabis-related numbers, as it is still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic at federal level. With no official count the researchers used unconventional methods to estimate the jobs including industry surveys, operator-sourced information, proprietary and economic data.
Nick Colas at DataTrek Research told U.S. financial news network CNBC that cannabis is the “fastest-growing labor market in the U.S.” He says cannabis-related job creation will continue as more states make it legal. As of March 2019, 10 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes and another 34 states have legalized medical usage.
In recent days, New Jersey officials unveiled a plan that would legalize cannabis and set up a taxation structure, and New York is looking to go down the legalization route. As more states legalize cannabis for adult and medical use, the number of jobs is projected to rise; between 2017 and 2020 employment numbers are set to more than double, making cannabis the fastest job creator in the U.S. says the Whitney and Leafly report.
Further research published by Glassdoor, earlier this month, shows that median pay in the cannabis industry is 11% above the median U.S. salary of $52,863. ‘Budtenders’, the staff who work directly with customers, generally earn up to $16 an hour, according to the site, which allows current and former employees to review their workplaces and list typical salaries.
At the other end of the spectrum, cultivation and extraction directors and sales representatives can earn well into six figures. According to the BLS figures there are more people in the U.S. cannabis industry than chefs – 131,430, aerospace engineers – 65,760 and computer operators – 40,000.
Following its purchase of Verano Holdings earlier this month, Harvest Health & Recreation says it will recruit up to 300 more staff in 2019. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports separate figures from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics show U.S. consumer spending on legal cannabis is expected to reach $22.2 billion by 2022, while Canadian spending is forecast to hit $5.9 billion.
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