Interesting pair of lists from Wonkblog of the fastest growing and dying industries in the United States.

I like to parse lists like this to find what is consistent amongst the members.

The top 10 fastest-growing US industries
1. Generic pharmaceuticals
2. Solar panel manufacturing
3. For-profit universities
4. Pilates and yoga studios
5. Self-tanning product manufacturing
6. 3-D printer manufacturing
7. Social network game development
8. Hot sauce production
9. Green and sustainable building construction
10. Online eyeglasses sales


What might these all have in common:

The top 10 dying US industries
1. Photofinishing
2. Newspaper publishing
3. Appliance repair
4. DVD, game, and video rental
5. Money market and other banking
6. Recordable media manufacturing
7. Hardware manufacturing
8. Shoe and footwear manufacturing
9. Costume and team uniform manufacturing
10. Women’s and girls’ apparel manufacturing


Thoughts? What are consistencies amongst each group?

Category: Data Analysis, Economy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

33 Responses to “Fastest Growing & Dying US Industries”

  1. Equityval says:

    Three of the winners are the first derivative of government programs or regulations: solar panel manufacturing, for profit schools and green building construction. Two out of three seem destined to fall off the list. As the air goes out of the solar subsidy bubble, it is looking more and more like telecom circa 2001. For profit schools are looking more and more like govt loan mills. Unless the default and placement rates improve, they’ll shrink too. Green buildings are a product of building codes – they will probably persist, though with nat gas as cheap as it is, some may wonder whether all the extra cost is worth it.

    The internet is responsible for items 1,2, 4 and 6 on the losers list. And of course Chairman Ben and his band of financial repressors are responsible for the demise of money market investing.

  2. jib10 says:

    On the downside,

    Photofinishing, Newspapers, DVD and video rental, recordable media all are in decline due to technology shift. They are all buggy whips. The functions they perform are being done now by new technology. The jobs loss here, in general, should be made up in the new technology. You see it in this list with the decline of game rentals being offset by the rise in social gaming.

    Shoe, costume, womens wear, and hardware I would chalk up to off-shoring. I am not sure sales are declining that much in these industries.

    On the plus side,

    Solar panels, for profit universities, and green building are all driven by substantial govt subsidies.

    3-D printers are new tech, earlier and small. They are at the start of their growth growth so % growth is huge but numbers are relatively small. Think PC’s around 1981.

    Pilates and self-tanning. Just a guess but are these bizs that people who are laid off and not finding work can start with little capital? I keep running into a lot of middle age ‘coaches’, as in career coach, life coach, etc running bizs out of their homes. I think these are people who are long term unemployed and they are moving on to other things. Being positive instead of doing nothing. I am just not sure the demand is there.

  3. DSS10 says:

    Disruption, either through technology or regulation. To win on the technology side you need have (or find) a company that can actually change or redevelop with the market and does not have any political momentum (i.e: Kodak or AT&T) based on one technology or market. To win on the regulatory side is the more interesting play. Who (which company/industry) is “investing” long term in DC lobbying activities. I don’t mean for current legislation but for the long term like banks did in the early 80′s. You could say energy (i.e: The Koch “political vampire squid”) but I think that the insurance industry is really getting ready to have their way with the congress at our expense…

  4. Moe says:

    I see the word manufacturing a lot on the bottom list – just call me Sherlock.

  5. ssc says:

    No scientific basis, but I also think at this point, the growth of solar panel manufacturing in US is highly suspected. A little weird with pilate and yoga, as those seem to be extremely “niche-y”. I think “green” building will probably persist, as if we learned nothing else, we should at least recognize extreme energy price swing has pretty much become the norm

  6. SOP says:

    Declines in: “3. Appliance repair…8. Shoe and footwear manufacturing, … 10. Women’s and girls’ apparel manufacturing” =

    Symptoms of a Poorer society. Migration away from “$60 per hour” mechanics and towards D-I-Y repair (e.g. see the growth in Autozone (AZO).

    Also, at least in my locale, there appears a massive migration away from”retail” shopping and into the “Rummage/yard sales, Facebook local classified ads” markets.

    (anecdotal, I know)
    2. Solar panel manufacturing…. 9. Green and sustainable building construction =

    Growth in “Bargaining Stage” industries in an “energy-apprehensive” society.:


    5. Self-tanning product manufacturing = growing narcissism and vanity – “Adult-Sized Children” syndrome.


    3. For-profit universities =

    Extremely desperate society = an exponential rise in exhausted zombie students pretending to earn degrees.

    The Top of the Education Bubble.

  7. Moe says:

    Self-tannning products – result of 10% tax on doing it via a salon

    Decline in appliance repair – Chinese products are made so well, repairs are darn near unheard of.

  8. gordo365 says:

    With a couple exceptions :
    - The fastest growing are small industries that employ few
    - The dying are big industries that used to employ many.

    Ok – I don’t have data to back it up – just me quick take. ;)

  9. Online eyeglass sales probably because you got all these high schoolers wearing glasses with no perscription now…..I don’t get it–does that make me old?

  10. CANDollar says:

    I talked to a kid at a science fair recently who had three different types of 3-D printer. I experienced the same feeling I had when I first played with an Apple-11 in 1980 or so. It is clear this is going to be a disruptive technology.

    I urge anyone who does not know about 3D printing to consult the Economist articles on it and to look at 3D printer sites: Shapeways, Sculpeo, MakerBot, Ultimaker etc…

  11. susanoftexas says:

    Growing–Fear (shortages of oil and jobs, aging)

    Dying–old or outsourced technology

    Fear is the new plastic. That’s where the money will be.

  12. ews says:

    Declines in: “3. Appliance repair…8. Shoe and footwear manufacturing, … 10. Women’s and girls’ apparel manufacturing” =

    Symptoms of a Poorer society. Migration away from “$60 per hour” mechanics and towards D-I-Y repair (e.g. see the growth in Autozone (AZO).


    Or, durable goods are largely crap, but so cheap they are not worth repairing, plus the fact that there are so many new gizmos on new appliances nobody actually wants to repair the one from 5-10 years ago.

  13. Concerned Neighbour says:

    I agree with CANDollar. 3-D printing could be the next big thing. What the Internet did for communications is what 3-D printing may very well do for manufacturing. I saw a video not long ago about how a guy made a bicycle – albeit a crappy one – using a 3-D printer. Potentially extremely disruptive to our way of life.

  14. orko says:

    The dying industries are due to outsourcing to cheaper parts of the world and obsolete industries. The growing industries (such as 3-d printing, games) are due to new and/or improved technologies and people looking for the next bubble. The others are due to their trendiness. They are hot right now due to a population looking to both be hip (their vanity) and to save money, especially by those that are approaching old age. While part of me sees solar panels, education, yoga, self-tanning* and green buildings coming from a population with long term goals geared toward their health and the health of their environment, the cynic in me thinks they are just doing it to brag.

    *I assume this is spray-on tanning rather than a fake-bake bed. They want to look good but, you know, not get cancer.

  15. [...] Top ten growing (and dying) US industries.  (Big Picture) [...]

  16. emaij says:

    Hot sauce production? One of these things is not like the others.

  17. inessence says:

    I guess I better take a look a the price of my Kodak stock :(

  18. machinehead says:

    Newspapers #2, banking #5 in the rank of losers?

    May they tie for No. 1 before going supernova.

    Thanks for the memories, chumps!

  19. CSF says:

    Government subsidies fuel more than solar panels, universities, and green buildings. They also fuel #1 industry: generic pharmaceuticals. Medicare/medicaid, federal/state health insurance, and employer health insurance deductions fuel demand for prescription drugs.

  20. mathman says:

    You missed one in the growth industry: mortuarian
    with all the malnourished, abused, shot, beaten, tortured, left to die kids, suicides of all ages, victims of gang violence, police violence, parental violence, spousal abuse, drug abuse, medical mistakes, fatal car, truck, school bus, and tourist vehicle accidents, tornado, hurricane and flooding victims, not to mention the deaths caused by pests, vipers, pets, and insects, food poisoning, and all the “1000 ways to die” anomalies, this looks like a good time to jump on the death bandwagon!

    You could go worldwide with this since it’s even worse in some other countries under the new austerity measures being imposed (Greece, Ireland and England come to mind) with political violence, occupying armies and social unrest adding to the mix (lots of mid-eastern countries).

    Here’s a quick clip from Russia:

  21. ssc says:

    Moe said:

    “Decline in appliance repair – Chinese products are made so well, repairs are darn near unheard of.”

    Chinese products are definitely better, but I think there’s other dynamics at work for the decline in appliance repair:

    Our barely 3 years old Whirlpool Cabrio washer broke down recently, not draining or spinning, we brought it new at Sears for over $700 (the best price we can find at the time). I do some stuff myself, so I checked around the usual DIY appliance places, as usual, it could be a number of things, but if you need to have somebody come out, it’s a minimum of $85, depending on what was broken, the bill can range from a low of $120 to $600, regardless, you are out at least $85. We went to Sears again, and ended up buying a new Kenmore HE for about $400 and so far the HE technology has proven to be way superior and uses a whole lot less water. With the new stuff keep coming down in price with improve performance, I think the appliance repair business may go the way of the computer repair business: you are better off buying new.

  22. CANDollar says:

    ssC and Moe:
    With augmented reality learning systems and 3D printing when something breaks, even very complex things, you will be able to repair it yourself. This is what the US military has been doing in the field for a while.

    You will use your Google Glass glasses, or Apple’s equivalent to get the instructions on the fly and if you do not have a 3D printer in your home there will be one in the corner store down the street.

    Maybe in future certain products will be still manufactured – like say a dryer – but will come with access to augmented reality repair instructions and CAD models of all the parts.

  23. Moe says:


    My comment on Chinese repairs was a bit tongue in cheek ;) (sorry)

    I have to catch-up on this 3D printer stuff – the Economist article looks like a good start – appreciate the heads-up on that! thanks.

  24. dudebroman says:

    Technology, automation, offshoring, “sustainable” stuff.

  25. Moe says:

    mathman –

    I’ll see your swine flu and raise you some radium. After having read this article last year; NOTHING surpises me….

  26. 873450 says:

    The top 10 fastest-growing US industries

    Hot sauce production
    Can unemployed Americans anticipate this growth industry will generate a significant amount of decent, stable jobs to replace the millions that were off-shored or eliminated? If so, then it is crucial we take whatever steps are necessary to prevent illegal immigrants from stealing these important migrant farmworking jobs away from the skilled and semi-skilled American workers formerly employed repairing appliances and manufacturing hardware, shoes and apparel. Hot sauce jobs must go to the hard working Americans entitled to them. If not for pay, then for dignity.

    Generic pharmaceuticals
    If hot sauce is a growth industy, then hot sauce consumption should skyrocket. Should Americans heavily invest what’s left of their retirement savings in generic drugs relieving heartburn, indigestion and organ failure caused by Americans consuming too much hot sauce?

    @Equityval Says:
    “And of course Chairman Ben and his band of financial repressors are responsible for the demise of money market investing.”

    Blaming Bernanke is like blaming an emergency room physician for trying to save the life of a suicidal alcoholic who drove a bus full of passengers off a cliff after getting drunk and shooting himself in the head. Bernanke is deploying the available remaining tools Greenspan abused, depleted and dumped on him to construct and support the mother of all socialist safety nets maintaining TBTF on life support. He receives almost none of the cooperation he needs from the corrupt, suicidal, drunk driving financial industry, which continues to drink, drive too fast and play with guns. Likewise, he receives almost none of the cooperation he needs from a corrupt, dysfunctional government bought, captured and owned by the suicidal, drunken financial industry.

    Don’t blame Bernanke or the bus passengers. Blame TBTF, the corrupt, suicidal drunk refusing to take responsibility for crashing the global economy and its aftermath or contribute anything to the clean up and recovery. Blame our corrupt, dysfunctional government captured by TBTF and following orders to do nothing that doesn’t benefit TBTF. And blame Bernanke’s predecessor, Greenspan, a double talking, self hypnotized sycophant for abandoning Bernanke out in the cold at night without a flashlight, insufficient food to survive and hardly any friends.

    just a rant

  27. ToNYC says:

    D-I-Y or
    D-I-D (Differently)
    …logging in to the transactional value experience.

  28. Fredex says:

    The shining star of manufacturing is gun makers. It’s not a large industry. It has added 30,000 jobs over the last three years. Manufacturers are working at capacity.

  29. RW says:


    An excellent rant: I may have to steal some of those lines, hope you don’t mind.

  30. rd says:


    A wealthy society can afford, at least temporarily, to focus on leisure activities or improvement of quality of life, real or perceived. We will know that China has arrived when we see things like water and air pollution treatment as major growing industries there.


    Two parallel trends -ongoing technology improvements and outsourcing of maufacturing to countries with cheaper labor and less regulation.

  31. boveri says:

    More evidence we’re slipping down an irrelevant economic rat hole —
    Self-tanning product manufacturing,
    Hot sauce production

  32. [...] Take a look at this list of growing and dying jobs from Barry Ritholtz.  You will notice they all share something in common.  They all appear to support the outward expression of individualism while at their core they are an abdication of your independence.: [...]