New figures from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis show a somewhat surprising finding—that both the cannabis and alcohol industries have created more jobs than the technology sector over the past decade.
Cannabis has especially boomed, topping out at almost 12,000 jobs in the industry, with alcohol a distant second at around 8,700.
There are two main reasons for this. First, the well known decline in American manufacturing jobs is still happening. We’ve seen once thriving cities and towns become shells of their former selves with the outsourcing of manufacturing. Those people who don’t have the degrees or skills to change careers paths are left hanging. The cannabis industry provides a good amount of low skill or previous experience not necessary positions for those and the unemployed youth in Oregon.
But the large discrepancy in pay between tech jobs and the industries where Oregon is booming is not such good news: State figures show high tech workers on average earn more than three times their counterparts who work in booze and weed.
According to Josh Lehner, an Oregon state economist, “Prices continue to plunge as the market matures and marijuana commoditizes. But increasing market activity in extracting oils, creating creams, making edibles in addition to hopefully building up the broader cluster of lab testing equipment, and branding and design firms, means Oregon will see a bigger economic impact from legalization.”
Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, Founder and CEO of New Frontier Data, says “We expect the cannabis industry’s growth to be slowed down to some degree in the next three to five years, however with projected total market sales to exceed $24 billion by 2025, and the possibility of almost 300,000 jobs by 2020, it remains a positive economic force in the U.S.”
This news is good in a few ways, but also needs to be tempered with the reality that it is not necessarily a long term solution for the lack of skilled jobs in the U.S. workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects by 2024, manufacturing jobs will decrease by 814,000, utilities will lose 47,000 jobs, and government jobs will decline by 383,000. Those are sobering numbers for people without the ability to change career paths. This is a great time to enter the marijuana industry, but those looking to enter at the ground level must consider their current and potential future skill set within the industry in order to determine if it can be a good career move.