New Jobs Report Finds Cannabis Industry is “America’s Single Greatest Job Creation Engine”

By Melissa Hutsell

Cannabis is the nation’s number one job producer. So far, the industry has created nearly a quarter of a million jobs in America, according to a newly released 2020 Jobs Report by Leafly

The annual report—now in its fourth year—finds that the industry supports 243, 700 full-time jobs as of early 2020. More than 33,000 of those jobs were added in 2019 alone. That’s a 15% increase from 2018, and 100% since 2017

An Unseen Engine for Economic Growth 

Overall, Leafly predicts that the emerging industry will continue to grow, creating jobs at a faster rate than any other industry in the U.S. 

“The $10.73 billion legal cannabis industry continues to be America’s single greatest job creation engine, growing at a rate faster than any other industry over the past four years,” states the report’s authors. 

However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finds the fastest growing occupations in America between 2018-2028 are solar photovoltaic installers, growing at a rate of 63%; followed by wind turbine service techs (57%); and home health aides (37%). 

In comparison, cannabis industry jobs are predicted to grow 250% between that same time period. 

2020 Jobs Report

While the BLS tracks employment outlooks across most fields, it does not track the cannabis industry. The Jobs Report authors call this, “a powerful act of shaming and stigmatization,” adding, “There are now nearly a quarter of a million Americans whose professional lives are categorized as illegal or nonexistent by the  [U.S.] government.”

But, as federal agencies turn their back on the industry, more are employed by it. To illustrate this, the report explains that the Massachusetts’ legal market—the first on the East Coast—”has more legal cannabis workers than hair stylists and cosmetologists.”

Furthermore, there are just as many employed by the industry in Nevada as there are bartenders. That’s impressive, considering Las Vegas has the most bartenders per capita in the nation

Still Room for Growth

California, Colorado, Washington and Oregon employ the most industry workers. They are also the most mature markets in the nation. Altogether, these states have nearly 100,000 cannabis workers. 

But newer markets, like Oklahoma and Illinois, also top the list. Each have added more than 9,000 jobs in 2019. Despite a rocky start, Michigan follows closely behind with the addition of 8,235 cannabis jobs statewide.

Among the state’s with the lowest amount of industry jobs are: Iowa, Hawaii, Utah , Louisiana, and West Virginia.

Other Interesting Findings

  • Legal states added 68% more cannabis jobs from 2018-2019.
  • California and Michigan’s legal industries saw a drop in cannabis workers in 2019: half the jobs in Michigan, and one in five (roughly 8,000) in California disappeared.
  • Triple digit growth is expected in Missouri.
  • The Oregon market grew at a rate of 20% in 2019; Washington and Colorado at 8%.
Emerald contributor since February 2016


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