Special Report

America's 25 Thriving Industries

15. Materials recovery facilities
> Employment growth from 2005-2014:
74.3%
> Avg. annual employment growth: 6.4%
> Employment total: 18,546
> Avg. annual wage: $43,392

The growing concern over climate change amongst American consumers in recent years may have contributed to more environmentally sound practices in the U.S. economy. Americans recycled just over a third of trash generated in 2013, up from the previous year and considerably higher than the recycling rate of 6.4% in 1960. It is perhaps no surprise that the materials recovery facilities industry, a pillar of the U.S. recycling system, is among the fastest growing in the country. Employment in materials recovery facilities has grown 74.3%, from 10,643 employees in 2005 to 18,546 in 2014. By comparison, employment in the broader administrative and waste services sector grew by only 6.2% over the same time period.

14. Copper, nickel, lead, and zinc mining
> Employment growth from 2005-2014:
75.8%
> Avg. annual employment growth: 6.5%
> Employment total: 17,721
> Avg. annual wage: $80,303

Over the past decade, employment in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector has increased by 50.1%, the fastest growth of any sector. Within that sector, the copper, nickel, lead, and zinc mining industry grew from 10,080 employees in 2005 to 17,721 in 2014. However, while average annual wages in the sector more than doubled from $48,102 to $102,092 over that same period, wage growth in the copper, nickel, lead, and zinc mining industry was more modest. Industry wages grew from $62,574 in 2014 to $80,303 in 2014, a 28.3% increase. This was also a smaller increase than the 31.1% overall wage growth across all industries.

13. Mobile food services
> Employment growth from 2005-2014:
78.8%
> Avg. annual employment growth: 6.7%
> Employment total: 12,991
> Avg. annual wage: $16,707

Comprised of food trucks, food carts and any other variety of mobile food concession stands, the mobile food services industry is one of the fastest growing in the country. While employment in the broader accommodation and food services sector grew by 15.4% from 2005 through 2014, the mobile food services industry grew even more rapidly — with 78.8% employment growth over the same time period. The industry’s rapid expansion is likely the result of increased demand for high quality cuisine without the high cost typically associated with a sit down restaurant. Despite a spike in employment, average annual wages of mobile food services industry workers are roughly $2,000 lower than the average annual wage of $18,761 for workers in the broader accommodation and food services industry.

12. Educational support services
> Employment growth from 2005-2014:
79.5%
> Avg. annual employment growth: 6.7%
> Employment total: 147,881
> Avg. annual wage: $46,637

In 2005, 82,380 Americans worked in educational support services. By 2014, that figure had grown to 147,881, a 79.5% increase. By contrast, the broader educational services sector, which includes industries such as colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools, and technical and trade schools, among others, grew by just 5.3% over the same period. Employees in educational support services primarily engage in non-instructional services related to educational processes or systems. Examples include educational consulting, educational guidance counseling, educational testing and evaluation, and student exchange programs.

11. Oil and gas pipeline construction
> Employment growth from 2005-2014:
89.7%
> Avg. annual employment growth: 7.4%
> Employment total: 136,276
> Avg. annual wage: $76,119

U.S. production of oil has nearly doubled since 2005. As a result, oil and gas pipeline construction is one of several oil-related industries that are among the fastest growing in the nation. From 2005 through 2014, employment in oil and gas pipeline construction grew from 71,849 workers to 136,276, an 89.7% increase. The oil and gas pipeline construction industry was an exception in an otherwise lackluster construction sector, which experienced a 15.7% employment contraction as a whole. Wages in the industry increased alongside employment. The average annual income of employees in the field grew from $48,071 in 2005 to $76,119 in 2014, a 58.3% increase — one of the largest wage growths in the country.

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