The market for plants is stronger than ever, according to a new study by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) that shows that the green industry — including nurseries, greenhouses, landscaping, and garden retail — generates $196 billion in revenues annually, and more than two million jobs in the U.S.
“Our study demonstrated that this industry is a very large employer,” says Alan Hodges, Extension Scientist with the UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department and lead author of the study. “It exists in virtually every community in the U.S. The rise of large retail chain stores with garden departments has made plants and other horticultural products more readily available to consumers than ever before.”
The $196 billion estimate for revenue contributions by the industry includes impacts arising through the industry supply chain — for example, fertilizers and chemicals purchased by nursery growers. It also reflects spending of household income by industry employees and tax revenues generated by the industry, Hodges says.
The study compared industry activity in 2013 to previous studies for 2002 and 2007-2008. Employment in the industry went up 4.4% between 2007 and 2013, which Hodges calls a modest gain after recovering from the recession of 2008-2010. The landscape services sector showed the biggest job growth, with 24%, while retail florists lost the most jobs, a 49% decline, from 2001 to 2013, the study reported.
Still, direct green industry employment was 1.6 million nationwide in 2013, according to the study, published in the journal HortTechnology.
“It is indeed a lot of jobs,” Hodges says. “This is perhaps the most important result of our study, because it demonstrates the labor intensity of this industry, particularly the services sectors. To make a comparison to another large industry in the U.S., this is about the same number of jobs in retail clothing and accessory stores.”