US Cannabis Jobs Could Approach 300,000 in 2020

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The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) U.S. cannabis industry jobs could reach nearly 300,000, according to new figures from the 2020 Marijuana Business Factbook.

Published by Marijuana Business Daily, a trade publication covering the cannabis industry, the Factbook includes information on industry trends as well as financial and operational data for cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.

In addition to sizing up sales of adult-use and medical marijuana in the U.S. — which are expected to surpass $15 billion in 2020 — Marijuana Business Daily also examined the cannabis industry jobs market.

Based on the publication’s estimates, the U.S. cannabis industry will boast the equivalent of between 240,000 — 295,000 full-time positions in 2020, up from between 165,000 — 200,000 in 2019.

“The anticipated rise in cannabis employment represents a nearly 50% increase over 2019 levels,” the Factbook states.

According to the editors of the resource guide, employment figures include those working directly for cannabis firms — budtenders, cultivators and extraction managers, among others — as well as individuals who support the cannabis industry, such as lawyers and consultants.

Looking ahead, it is expected that full-time equivalent positions will more than double to as much as 575,000 by 2024. Over the next four years, the industry is expected to add nearly 250,000 FTE positions, the editors added.

By comparison, roughly 271,000 people currently hold beverage manufacturing jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To arrive at their figures, the editors began with information from the Marijuana Policy Group, which has determined that for every $64,000 in cannabis sales generated in Colorado, the equivalent of one full-time job is created at a plant-touching business.

They also surveyed a variety of cannabis firms to gauge average employee count and estimated the number of companies in each area of the industry to get a "rough idea of how many employees work in the industry.”

In explaining their methodology, Factbook editors stressed that employment numbers do not include every worker at ancillary companies conducting some business within the cannabis space.

“Rather, they reflect our best estimate of how many people work at companies that derive all or a significant portion of their revenue from cannabis,” the editors wrote.

Future employment projections are also based on projected retail sales, they noted.

Nevertheless, Marijuana Business Daily’s 2020 employment estimate is mostly consistent with previous forecasting from Leafly, which reported earlier this year that legal cannabis supported 243,700 jobs.

Meanwhile a 2018 report from BDSA and The Arcview Group also projected that direct FTE jobs in the U.S. cannabis industry would top 291,500 by 2021.

The full Marijuana Business Factbook can be purchased for $399 and individual sections are also available for $199.


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