Top 10 Fastest-Growing US Industries: The Internet Makes its Mark

IBISWorld-Top-10-Fastest-Growing-US-Industries-Apr2013The ad-supported internet ecosystem contributed about 5% to US GDP in 2011, per a recent IAB report, and a new study provides another perspective regarding the internet’s influence on the economy. The IBISWorld study examines annualized revenue growth over the past 10 years, coming to the conclusion that the fastest-growing US industries all share a common trait: they’re all online-based. Social network game development tops the charts with an annualized growth rate of 134.4% since 2003. The industry is expected to see growth rates averaging 16.9% per year over the next 5 years.

Not far behind, social networking sites, with an annualized growth rate of 88.3%, putting this industry in the 3rd position. The social networking sites industry is expected to grow more rapidly than its game development component over the next 5 years, though, at about 25% per year.

Obviously the dominance of online-based industries on the list reflects not only the rapidly growing consumption of online media, but also the relative infancy of the internet (many of these industries are presumably starting from tiny if not non-existent revenue bases a decade ago). That’s also why growth rates are likely unsustainable – as seen in the more muted (even if healthy) projected growth rates over the coming years. Nevertheless the list offers some insights into which activities on the web have most rapidly – and successfully – been monetized.

Beyond the social aspect of the internet, e-commerce (which has grown year-over-year for 13 consecutive quarters) is also a big player on the list. The online fashion samples (55.6%), greeting cards (40%), photo printing (27.7%), shoes (17%), and household furniture (13.1%) sales industries have all recorded strong growth over the past decade, occupying the middle rungs of the list of top-growing industries.

Of course, the necessary infrastructure needs to be there to support e-commerce activity, and as a result the online payment processing software development industry has seen rapid expansion. With its annualized growth rate of 43.2% over the past 10 years, this industry cracks the top 5 fastest-growing, and is expected to see another solid 5 years, with revenues increasing by 17.2% on average each year.

The remaining industries on the top 10 list are a snapshot of the different ways in which the public is using the internet for leisure activities:

  • E-book publishing, the second-fastest growing industry, has experienced annualized gains of 88.3% since 2003, though projected growth over the next 5 years is more muted, at 7.5% annually; and
  • Fantasy sports services, in at number 10, has seen annualized growth of 13.1%, and can expect to see annualized growth of 7.6% over the next 5 years.

About the Data: The IBISWorld data was compiled using public sources, such as the US Census, along with industry contacts.