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The marijuana industry looks like the fastest-growing job market in the country

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.


Along with the bottom-line gains, the industry's growth also offers an alternative to the push for young Americans to get a college degree, which has led to an explosion of student loan debt that now totals nearly $1.6 trillion.

"Americans with a college degree are basically at full employment, but most Americans do not have those credentials and their participation rates are lower than the former," Colas wrote. "The marijuana industry offers solid paying positions at all levels of experience and educational attainment."

Colas cited Glassdoor data showing that median pay in the cannabis industry is 11 percent above the median U.S. salary of $52,863. "Budtenders," the staff members who work directly with customers, generally earn $12 to $16 an hour, according to the site that allows current and former employees to review their workplaces and list typical salaries.

At the other end of the spectrum, cultivation and extraction directors and outside sales representatives can earn well into six figures.


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