Report: Cannabis industry poised for massive hiring wave in 2024

The U.S. cannabis industry is set for a hiring boom in 2024 after a period of layoffs and economic stagnation, according to cannabis jobs platform Vangst’s latest industry salary guide.

The uptick comes after a period of contraction, driven in part by the normalization of consumer behavior post-COVID and a tightening of investment capital influenced by rising interest rates.

Despite the gloomy headlines the last year, the industry recorded a sizable 12% rise in legal sales, reaching $29 billion in 2023, Vangst reported. That rebound, combined with the potential federal rescheduling of cannabis, is expected to fuel job creation, especially as more state markets come online and consolidation reshapes others.

Vangst predicts that up to 100,000 new jobs could emerge if cannabis is reclassified to Schedule III. Such a move would reduce tax burdens and immediately drive up company valuations and investor interest, according to analysis from Viridian Capital Advisors.

The retail segment, in particular, is expected to see huge hiring activity, with 93% of retail companies surveyed planning to increase their staff in 2024.

“Nearly 90% of surveyed companies plan to hire in 2024, with two-thirds of retail companies preparing to hire five or more employees in the coming months,” according to Vangst.

The report also suggests that the vast majority of cannabis companies have adopted optimistic hiring forecasts, with 86% indicating plans to expand their workforce. With that, companies are prioritizing candidates with direct industry experience and adaptability to rapidly changing legal and market landscapes.

There’s also a focus on cultural fit and communication skills over traditional metrics like professionalism and problem-solving skills.

Along with hiring’s upward trajectory, salaries have also seen a meaningful increase, with top-end wages growing by 4.7%. That outpaced the national non-cannabis average. But non-salary benefits still lag behind other industries, with only 74% of cannabis companies offering a comprehensive benefits package. That has a significant impact on employee satisfaction and retention.

“The message here is loud and clear: Cannabis job candidates want health insurance and work-life balance,” the report said.

Source: Vangst 2024 Cannabis Salary Guide

Diversity and inclusion efforts strategies are taking a bigger role in cannabis hiring, as well, with nearly half of the respondent companies implementing D&I strategies. The sector employs a notable number of veterans and individuals with disabilities, indicating a diverse workforce, but the report highlighted the need for more progress in that arena.

Employees noted a strong desire for higher pay, better benefits, and more significant career development opportunities, driving them to seek new positions externally.

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