86% of Employers Plan to Hire More in 2024, but Benefits, DEI Declining

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DENVER – Following two years of radical corporate downsizing as consumers returned to pre-COVID spending levels and investment dollars evaporated, the cannabis industry is poised for a strong hiring upswing in 2024, according to a new salaries-and-jobs report.

Wages are on the rise, too, according to the report. Despite cutbacks, top-level salaries rose 4.7 percent in 2023, compared to an average increase of 4.1 percent for similar roles in traditional industries.


The 2024 Cannabis Industry Salary Guide, the sixth in an annual series published by staffing firm Vangst, predicts as many as 100,000 new jobs could be created this year. The guide’s authors based their prediction, in part, on a survey indicating 86 percent of employers expect to expand hiring in core areas, with two-thirds planning to hire five or more new people.

A significant number of those jobs will lie in the retail, cultivation, and manufacturing verticals, according to the report. Ninety-three percent of retail-sector respondents indicated they expect to hire in 2024; 88 percent of respondents in cultivation and manufacturing said they plan to hire full-time or part-time workers.

What do companies seek in new employees? According to the survey, 63 percent want relevant industry experience, while 50 percent seek “adaptability and flexibility” and 46 percent are looking for a “strong cultural fit.” Leadership potential, professionalism, and problem-solving skills are less desired, being cited by only 23 percent, 18 percent, and 14 percent of respondents, respectively. In a sharp departure from previous surveys, only 14 percent of respondents indicated a commitment to diversity and inclusion is important in new-hires.

In fact, only 47 percent of respondent companies consider diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) an important part of their hiring practices, and 39 percent have no DEI plan at all. Roughly one-third of all respondent companies reported participating in social equity programs that promote employment opportunities for individuals disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, and 47 percent said they employ workers who have cannabis-related criminal records.

Also seemingly suffering a precipitous decline: the quality and availability of perks and benefits. While mg Magazine’s 2021 Best Employers in Cannabis survey discovered more than 90 percent of employers offered at least basic benefits, Vangst’s new survey found only 74 percent of companies now offer benefits packages. Of those that do, only 89 percent offer paid time off, 89 percent offer medical insurance, and 50 percent offer a 401(k) plan. Nearly half of workers (46 percent) said their benefits in their current job are not as good as those they enjoyed outside the industry.

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