Special Report

America’s 25 Thriving Industries

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25. Offices of misc. health practitioners
> Employment growth 2008-2017: 49.6%
> Employment total: 143,862
> Wage growth 2008-2017: -28.5%
> Avg. annual wage: $23,583

The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to more than double over the next four decades, from 46 million in 2016 to 98 million in 2060. Already, as more baby boomers have entered retirement, demand for health care services has increased substantially. Over the past decade, employment at the offices of health practitioners other than doctors and surgeons — chiropractors, optometrists, and mental health professionals, for example — rose 49.6%, far more than the national employment growth for all occupations.

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24. Local messengers and local delivery
> Employment growth 2008-2017: 50.6%
> Employment total: 69,920
> Wage growth 2008-2017: 23.3%
> Avg. annual wage: $17,818

As e-commerce continues to grow, there is a greater need for “last-mile delivery services,” the final leg in a package’s shipment route. Some businesses are capitalizing on the increased demand for personal delivery and offering new delivery options such as lockers and drones. Many e-commerce companies are employing couriers and local messengers to provide delivery services of small items within a single city or urban area. The number of Americans working for local delivery services rose 50.6% from 2008 to 2017. The cities where couriers earn the highest wages include San Jose, Salinas, and Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C.

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23. Other support activities for road transportation
> Employment growth 2008-2017: 52.0%
> Employment total: 51,229
> Wage growth 2008-2017: 208.8%
> Avg. annual wage: $33,154

Support activities for road transportation include services such as truck weighing stations, snow removal, or car inspection. Employment in the industry rose by 52.0% from 2008 to 2017.

Wages for road transportation support workers have risen faster than wages in nearly any other industry over the past decade. The average annual wage more than tripled from $10,738 in 2008 to $33,154 in 2017, the 11th fastest increase of any industry. The increase is part of a general trend of rising wages in the construction sector, itself the result of increased construction activity during the recovery from the Great Recession.

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22. All other personal services
> Employment growth 2008-2017: 52.5%
> Employment total: 67,658
> Wage growth 2008-2017: 52.9%
> Avg. annual wage: $24,543

Personal care services include occupations such as childcare workers, barbers and hairstylists, fitness trainers, and manicurists and pedicurists. While employment growth in the personal care sector as a whole has outpaced the national average employment growth over the past decade, growth in all other, more specialized personal care services — astrology, personal shopping, genealogical investigation, and palm reading are a few examples — has grown at nearly eight times the pace of the U.S. workforce from 2008 to 2017. The increase in specialized personal service workers may be tied to the rise of the gig economy — the number of self-employed individuals rose by approximately 20% between 2005 and 2015.

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21. Offices of specialty therapists
> Employment growth 2008-2017: 53.3%
> Employment total: 383,003
> Wage growth 2008-2017: 40.1%
> Avg. annual wage: $50,019

As scores of aging baby boomers have entered retirement over the past decade, the demand for health care services increased substantially. The number of workers employed in the speciality therapy industry — which includes services such as hypnotherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, and naturopathy — rose 53.3% from 2008 to 2017, compared to the 5.4% national employment growth across all industries over the period.

The increase is also due to the growing demand for alternative medicine. According to a recent study from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans spend approximately $30 billion a year on alternative medicines such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic, and yoga, which amounts to 9.2% of total out-of-pocket health care spending.