At a time when the rest of the labor market appears to be tightening up, the marijuana industry is just getting started when it comes to job creation, according to a recent report.
Pot manufacturers and distributors, on both the recreational and medicinal sides, saw massive job creation in 2018, with 64,389 new positions added to the rolls. That brings to 211,000 the number of jobs directly related to the industry, part of a total of 296,000 in all related areas combined, industry site Leafly said in a report it compiled with Whitney Economics.
The U.S. economy in total created about 2.7 million new jobs in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which does not count cannabis-related hiring because the substance is still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic at the federal level.
Hiring slowed to a crawl in February, with payrolls growing by just 20,000. That came even though the BLS said there were 7.3 million job openings against just 6.3 million considered unemployed in December, the most recent month for which data were available.
"Amid the roiling debate over American jobs, the legal cannabis industry remains a substantial and unrecognized engine of grassroots job creation," the report's authors wrote. "In 2019, America's cannabis industry is one of the nation's greatest economic success stories. That success deserves to be recognized and celebrated."
The document was written by Bruce Barcott, Leafly's deputy editor, and Whitney Economics founder Beau Whitney.
Because there is no official count the report had to use some unconventional methods to estimate the jobs total. They utilized state data, industry surveys, information from operators, proprietary data and other economic formulas.
What they found was stunning: a 44 percent gain in the workforce for 2018 that came on top of a 21 percent increase the previous year.
At 211,000, the total number of jobs compares favorably to other more mainstream occupations: there were 131,430 chefs in the country, for instance, along with 65,760 aerospace engineers and 40,000 computer operators, according to the most recent BLS counts.
"US marijuana legalization is a rare example of disruption creating jobs rather than destroying them," Nick Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, said in a note Thursday that highlighted some of the cannabis jobs data. "With the US labor market recently showing signs of weakness and fears of an eventual recession in the wings, this is one industry that might soften the blow of an economic downturn." Read more