NEW JERSEY: The marijuana job market saw unprecedented growth in 2014 with the evolution of recreational businesses in Colorado as well as the continued advancement of investment into business infrastructures for the medically legal states as well as the marketing of ancillary products and services. Consistent with other industries as they evolve, legal marijuana is seeing job growth in areas tied to retail sales, distribution, and back office functions to run their businesses not unlike other emerging industries.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the city of Denver’s unemployment rate alone was 4.2% through November 2014, down from 6.5% a year ago.
WeedHire.com Data Q3 to Q4 2014
1) Dispensary Jobs – 90% Growth
2) Medical Jobs – 70% Growth
3) Administrative Jobs – 65% Growth
4) Sales Jobs – 56% Growth
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Top 6 Jobs Functions Most in Demand
These statistics demonstrate the industry is still very early in development. The lack of banking support as well as the delays in issuance of licenses and approvals at the state level is likely to also play a role in how fast these organizations can grow. It is important to note however that industry analysts believe that approximately 10,000 jobs in marijuana already exist in Colorado. Thousands more will be coming in the follow-on states of Washington, Oregon, & Alaska.
Cannabis-related companies are also investing in states such as Illinois and Nevada where legalization efforts will advance thereby creating even more job opportunities.
Cannabis Technology Jobs
Technology is also playing a role in the jobs market for legal cannabis. Vertical software manufacturers are increasing their workforce in the areas of programming for such products as inventory management, testing, and mobile apps development. These organizations are also looking for experienced sales staff to assist in the education and market-share gains for their respective products.
Social media is also playing a significant role in the jobs sector as legal marijuana is considered as much a social movement as a business and healthcare issue.
More Demand than Supply of Jobs
Although the sector is predicted to grow exponentially moving forward; currently the jobs market is seeing a size-able demand for jobs vs. a lower supply. Cannabis Staffing Agencies are seeing an average of 200 job applicants for every 1 job on file.
As expected, the overall trend indicates that there are a larger number of people with no experience or specific skill- set who want jobs in the marijuana industry. Many of these individuals do not have industry experience and are willing to take lower-level jobs in order to break into the sector.
Legal Cannabis Helps Mainstream Jobs Market
The legal marijuana jobs market is also responsible for job increases in complimentary industries as well. One example is the number of dispensaries and grow houses being set up. Contractors for lighting, HVAC, extermination, electrical, as well specialized legal and accounting are all needed to set up these organizations.
Applicants are not what you think
Many cannabis employers are also surprised at the amount of applicants that are in fact non-stoners. Approximately 80 % of applicants state at time of application that they do not use cannabis. Many job-seekers actually see this industry for its future growth potential. Some predict it might be the largest industry in certain states as the industry matures.
Industry analysts also believe the cannabis industry is an excellent opportunity for young people without a college education to escape the clutches of minimum wage.*
Hiring Fundamentals in the Legal Cannabis Industry
Hiring Smart is what WeedHire is all about and the overall consensus among many employers within the sector is no different than any other industry. Although most established companies in the legal cannabis project continued growth, employers are being cautious about when and whom they hire. A higher level of expertise is more sought-after with a specialization in certain areas such as grow of the marijuana plant; these individuals are often called “Master Growers”.
What about Hemp
There are many wildcards to the legal marijuana job sector but one that is not often discussed is the emergence of industrial hemp. Hemp, if manufactured properly can compete with Cotton, Lumber and other associated industries. This could mean the emergence of a significant amount of jobs in production, warehousing and distribution as well as sales and administration. Actual towns that have struggled in recent years which were centered on manufacturing could be resurrected with the emergence of industrial hemp.
Conclusion & Outlook
While some analysts predict as many as 200,000 cannabis jobs to be created in 2015, WeedHire sees a steady increase in job opportunities. The pace of growth in opportunities for employment is dependent on factors such as upcoming elections and individual state commitment to the voter elected medical or reactional programs. Regardless, the legal cannabis sector will push forward and WeedHire is committed to being the gateway for interested job seekers and employer’s to connect and build this industry together.
In November 2014, Oregon and Alaska followed Washington and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana. While the newly elected rights of these residents to grow marijuana at home begin early on, the commercial market and regulatory system will not begin for one to two years. This will impact the speed of growth of jobs in manufacturing. We do anticipate however that ancillary jobs growth will begin to take shape in 2015. The city of Washington DC ‘s measure is still unclear as to how advancements will move forward.
In 2015, specifically in Colorado, we would expect to see increased jobs growth in edibles, product testing, and home-grow products and services. Washington, a state a bit slower to evolve due to continued challenges tied to the supply of the market and tax rates.
Each quarter, WeedHire will share ongoing data and trends in both jobs and career growth to provide insight to employers and employee candidates and help move the industry forward toward full legalization.
*Brookings Institute Research