Today, the state of Colorado has the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
According to a CNBC report released earlier this week, Colorado’s unemployment rate is almost half of the national rate.
“While the national unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in May, the lowest since 2001, Colorado’s jobless rate is the nation’s lowest at 2.3 percent.”
There are several reasons why these numbers are so low, one of which is a boom in the
cannabis industry. According to a Washington Post report, cannabis legalization spawned roughly 18,000 new jobs in 2015. “These indirect impacts of marijuana legalization came from increased demand on local goods and services: growers rent warehouse space and purchase sophisticating lighting and irrigation equipment, for instance. Marijuana retailers similarly rely on other companies, like contractors, lawyers and bookkeeping services, to conduct their own businesses.”
A report by Marijuana Business Daily released last year estimates that there are 100,000 to 150,000 people employed by the cannabis industry.
Thanks to the low business tax rate in Colorado, more small businesses are being established. According to a report by Marijuana Business Daily,
“Colorado now has 27,000 occupational licensees, up from about 16,000 at the end of 2014, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.”
Governor John Hickenlooper, who previously did not support cannabis legalization, is surprised by the growth in this industry, but insists that the $200 million worth of tax revenue gathered from the sales of cannabis is rather small. “We have a $28 billion state budget overall, and $200 million is just a drop in the bucket there,” he said. Still, the commerce generated from $1.3 billion in Colorado cannabis sales in 2016 means more jobs in other industries as well.
“We have over 2,000 companies that do either renewable energy or clean tech,” he said.
In terms of job growth, cannabis jobs are growing at a faster pace than clean energy. A report in 2014 said that clean energy industry generated 1,583 new jobs. After the cannabis industry legalized in 2014, somewhere between 1,000-2,000 were created within the first six months after cannabis legislation had passed.
Perhaps these two industries could benefit from collaboration. Growing cannabis requires an abundance of natural resources and electricity, making it a not-so-green crop. “Up to 40 percent of cannabis grow operational costs come from energy-related expenditures,” said John Morris of Resource Innovation Institute, a group that focuses on decreasing the carbon footprint of the cannabis business. Hickenlooper has already signaled that environmental protection is a priority in the state, and is concerned by Donald Trump’s abandonment of the Paris climate agreement. “In the short term,” he said, “more than 60,000 employees” are tied to clean energy in Colorado. “If that begins to contract or kind of be squelched, that’s obviously not good for Colorado.”
But it appears the state may be able to sustain itself between its pro-business climate, a growing cannabis industry, and a renewable energy sector. “More than anything we wanted Colorado to think of itself as a place, not just for outdoor recreation, but a place to go and start a business,” said Hickenlooper.