America’s 25 Thriving Industries

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Detailed Findings & Methodology

One of the most significant developments over the last decade has been improving economic conditions. The Great Recession officially began in 2007. After several years of climbing unemployment and economic hardship, the economy began to recover around 2010, and conditions continue to improve today. One of the longest economic recoveries on record, the economic growth in the aftermath of the Great Recession has resulted in Americans having more disposable income.

Several of the industries on this list, including non-veterinary pet care, sports and recreation instruction, and liquor distillation can largely attribute their rapid employment growth to greater flexibility in discretionary spending for many Americans.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Martin Kohli, chief regional economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, explained that two major changes over the past decade have led to an employment spike in many of the industries on this list.

The first of these is the expansion of internet use and access. “Because of the continued expansion of the internet, there have been big changes in how people get information and entertainment and this has created some winners,” Kohli said. Two of these winners have been the internet publishing and media buying industries, which have reported 183% and 63% 10-year increases in employment, respectively.

The second major change Kohli identified is the growing elderly population. “The aging of the population has been going on for some time, but it is having big effects on employment and spending as a country,” Kohli explained.

The number of Americans aged 65 and older rose 30.3% over the past decade, from 37.7 million in 2007 to 49.1 million in 2016, and it is projected to increase to over 80 million by 2050. Additionally, the number of uninsured Americans has fallen considerably in the last 10 years due largely to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion. These developments have been a boon for many medical industries, and it may not be a surprise that four industries on this list are in the health care sector. Services for the elderly and disabled is among them, with a 10-year employment increase of 189%, more than any other industry.

To identify America’s 25 thriving industries, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed employment change from 2007 through last year for 712 U.S. industries in the fourth level of detail in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) by the Office of Management and Budget. All data, including the number of establishments within each industry, average weekly and annual wages, as well as breakdowns of these data by government, private, and local levels were retrieved from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Several fourth tier industries from the 2007 data have been aggregated under 2012 codes. For example, “Tobacco Production Manufacturing” and “Tobacco Stemming and Redrying” are now aggregated under “Tobacco Manufacturing.” Data has been adjusted accordingly to ensure an accurate portrayal of 10-year employment change in these industries.

The BLS tracks industry employment by tallying the number of workers in establishments whose primary sources of revenue fall within a given industry. In 2013, the BLS reclassified a number of workers employed in private households into services for the elderly and disabled. As a result, employment, establishment, and wage growth from 2007 to 2016 in the services for the elderly and disabled industry may be partially inflated.