Chart: US cannabis employment could climb nearly 50% in 2020, surpassing computer programmers

The number of people working in the U.S. cannabis industry is expected to jump to 240,000-295,000 by the end of 2020, slightly higher than the number of computer programmers employed in the United States.

The anticipated rise in cannabis employment represents a nearly 50% increase over 2019 levels, which was estimated at 165,000-210,000 in the newly released Marijuana Business Factbook.

Cannabis employees include people directly working in the sector, such as budtenders and extraction technicians, as well as employees of ancillary companies – think consultants and lawyers – who support the marijuana industry.

Sustained sales growth, especially in recreational markets, will continue to fuel job growth in the cannabis industry.

The Marijuana Business Factbook estimates that between 2020 and 2024, the industry will add nearly 250,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

However, there is the potential for cannabis sales to slow if the economic pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more pronounced. If so, growth in marijuana industry jobs might stall.

So far, sales have held relatively steady through the coronavirus crisis. But that could change.

Among other things, it’s possible the added $600-per-week in federal unemployment benefits might end this month – or be reduced by Congress.

Whatever the case, the retail sector accounts for most of the jobs in the cannabis industry.

That’s because of requirements in nearly all state-legal markets to sell marijuana in distinct physical locations rather than alongside other goods in traditional retail outlets such as groceries or drugstores.

If marijuana could be sold in traditional stores, the number of retail jobs supported by the cannabis industry would likely be a fraction of what it is now.

For example, if a drugstore generated an additional $300,000 per year in cannabis sales, it might need to hire only a couple of additional employees to handle the increased sales volume.

Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier can be reached at [email protected]

2 comments on “Chart: US cannabis employment could climb nearly 50% in 2020, surpassing computer programmers
  1. Mary Rinaldo on

    As a successful retail leader, I agree with you. Cannabis is the emerging retail market. As states sign on for both recreational and medically necessary the growth of all sectors of the industry. The opportunity lies in being able to keep pace or better, be ahead of the curve by adding key infrastructure to be first in the market.
    I see the opportunity from the eyes of a Retail leader regularly charged with building great teams that can sell/add product to the customers basket, drive customer loyalty and create repeat traffic to any business I represent.
    For me, being displaced in the pandemic I recognize the power and future growth of the cannabis industry and have begun to read, join zoom chats with cannabis experts, watch videos, joined LinkedIn groups or anything else I can locate to self educate so I can get my foot in the door and contribute my skills to what I believe is the next retail frontier.

  2. Thom Randolph on

    As a longtime programmer, I have to say that’s not likely. Microsoft alone employs well over 50K programmers, with all the other employing thousands more. Heck, even Boeing has 10K or more. The numbers I’m seeing are FAR more people who do programming. Here’s one article from DAXX, and a second from an internet data aggregator, which might not be the absolute most accurate, but other sources had similar numbers.

    Other data points:
    * Stack Overflow, the primary place programmers go to find answers has 10M registered users
    * GitHub, the primary place where programmers store personal projects, has 37M users and 100M project repositories.
    * Even as far back as 2017, just US colleges pumped out 49000+ BS graduates in computer science. The world produced

    Even if the numbers aren’t perfectly accurate, 250,000 workers is off by 2 orders of magnitude!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *