Bloomin photo tec.jpg

Cannabis Industry Bring More Jobs To Oregon Than Tech Industry

 November 8th , 2018 photo/istock/Catalin205

By Roger Malespin

As New figures from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis show both cannabis and alcohol industry jobs outnumbering those in tech. 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.

 Secondly, the raw ingredients used in both of the ‘sin’ industries are often locally grown and refined. 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."

While this is good news for the Oregon economy and the viability of the legal marijuana market, economists caution people to be aware that the income potential for these industries is much lower overall than tech. The average annual wage for a high tech position is just over $110,000, while alcohol and cannabis trail far behind with $32,000 and $29,600, respectively. The legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $7.2 billion in 2016 and will continue to grow, but a large chunk of those jobs will be lower paying, entry level positions that do not necessarily have much upward mobility.

 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.