United States / Industry Insights
Top 10 Fastest Growing Industries in 2013

What information do you want to see from IBISWorld on COVID-19? We'd love to hear from you

by IBISWorld's Media Team
Apr 16 2013

The US economy has been chugging along as of late, and industries, businesses and consumers are reaping the benefits of an overall improved economic climate. US gross domestic product is forecast to grow 3.3% per year on average over the next five years, a welcome change from the meager 1.0% growth from 2008 to 2013. Some industries, however, aren’t just recovering – they’re flourishing.

IBISWorld has compiled a list of standout industries based on their annualized revenue growth over the past 10 years, as well as performance expected through 2018. One trend stood out above all: The internet is playing an integral and deciding role among these industries. For example, IBISWorld expects the number of mobile internet connections in the United States to rise at an annualized rate of 7.9% through 2018. Thus, a rise in the number of mobile internet connections, higher internet traffic and the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices across the US will help these 10 industries continue a meteoric rise that will outpace the rest of the economy.

Going social

Consumers are eating up social media content, from the comfort of their personal computers and on their mobile devices. Social networking sites (SNS) are at the forefront of this growth, with some boasting hundreds of millions of accounts and gaining new users every day. Over the past decade, SNS has exploded, recording 74.4% annualized growth since 2003, which included the beginnings of early SNS like MySpace and Friendster. Today, the industry is dominated by Facebook and Twitter. Over the next five years, SNS will further develop new ways to monetize, tracking user data and leveraging more lucrative advertising contracts. As a result, the Social Networking Sites industry is expected to generate growth of roughly 25.0% per year on average over the five years to 2018.

Social media users love games, and firms in the Social Network Game Development industry have been reaping the benefits. Many of these companies, such as Zynga and EA (Electronic Arts), have transformed well-known, classic games like Scrabble and Battleship into social attractions where consumers can play head-to-head over the internet. This trend has been enhanced by a surge in social game applications, which are being developed at a rapid rate to cater to those consumers looking to play games on their mobile device. The industry hardly existed in 2003, but has since posted annualized revenue growth of 134.4% over the past 10 years. Moreover, the industry is expected to grow an additional 16.9% per year on average over the five years to 2018.


Consumers are increasingly adopting internet shopping behaviors as well. Online sales of fashion samples, greeting cards, photo printing, shoes and household furniture have exploded in recent years and look to maintain their strong growth in the long run. Giants like Amazon, eBay and Best Buy have longstanding online retail websites where consumers can browse and purchase new items. The immense growth of these companies has helped push up revenue significantly for the overall e-commerce industry over the past decade. Aside from those well-established firms, however, many specialized websites are gaining greater traction and maintaining a robust, loyal customer base. Sites like Fab, Etsy and One King’s Lane appeal to a broad range of consumers by offering various apparel, housewares and lifestyle products. Moreover, these sites have been enhancing their mobile presence, as many consumers continually access mobile e-commerce content from their smartphones or tablets. Each of these sites has shown impressive, swift growth over the past decade in revenue, establishments and in their overall contribution to the economy.

Online Payment Processing Software Developers are strongly benefiting from the ever-increasing e-commerce activity. As more brick-and-mortar retail establishments created online retail websites over the past decade, the need for online payment processing software has increased dramatically. As a result, the Online Payment Processing Software Developers industry has experienced average annual revenue growth of 43.2% over the 10 years to 2013. Over the next five years, these online payment processing firms will allow more small businesses and other merchants to receive payments via their mobile devices. This trend has already been gaining traction, with mobile payment processing devices like Square, which allows business owners to bypass traditional, clunky point-of-sale systems in favor of a small, practical attachment to their mobile device. Additionally, as more niche, specialized firms continue to enter the e-commerce realm, online payment processors will continue reaping the benefits, with expected growth of 17.2% per year on average over the five years to 2018.

Work and play

Consumers are also bringing hobbies and career endeavors online. In particular, many consumers are reading on-the-go. With increasing smartphone and tablet penetration in the United States, e-book publishers have flourished. E-book publishers design books that have already been sold in hardcover print format and transfer them to a digital format so that consumers may read these books on their smartphones, tablets, e-readers or other mobile device. Additionally, many book publishers have begun to develop books only printed in digital format. E-book publishing has exploded as more consumers buy into the convenience of e-readers and tablets. These devices allow book readers to maintain a catalog of digital copies on one device, as opposed to carrying around a traditional printed copy. All of these factors have lead to strong growth for the industry over the past decade, reaching annualized growth of 88.3% since 2003. Over the next five years, e-book publishers will continue to benefit from the improvement in the prevailing economy and its effect on consumer disposable income, as well as the gradual shift toward more books formatted only for e-readers. IBISWorld expects E-Book Publishing to grow 7.5% per year on average over the five years to 2018.

Fantasy Sports Services have been gaining popularity as more consumers go to the internet to compete in these social sports games. The industry develops software, and markets an online platform for multiplayer fantasy sports. Fantasy sports are games where participants act as general managers to build teams that compete against other fantasy owners based on the statistics generated by real individual players or professional teams. The most common variation converts statistical performance into points that are compiled and totaled according to a roster selected by a manager that makes up a fantasy team. These games have been around for more than 25 years and played in tight-knit social circles, but the internet really helped push the envelope for transforming Fantasy Sports Services into a full-blown industry. Over the past 10 years, fantasy sports services have experienced explosive absolute growth of 241.0%. Fantasy Sports Service firms will continue cashing in on the general move toward more mobile content, which will help bring revenue up at an annualized rate of 7.6% over the five years to 2018.

Online recruitment sites have been taking to the internet and revolutionizing the Employment Recruiting industry. Many of these sites reach out to employers to create online job classifieds while also contacting job seekers by maintaining databases of resumes that employers may search. Sites like Monster and CareerBuilder are longstanding online recruitment sites that offer consumers a large database of job postings and other information. LinkedIn and Indeed have enhanced this platform by incorporating social networking connection capabilities and by providing space for user commentary and other feedback. Online recruitment sites have grown an annualized 11.9% since 2003. Over the next five years, these sites will grow another 3.0% per year on average by penetrating specialized, niche job markets and catering to specific markets of job seekers.

For a printable PDF of Top 10 Fastest Growing Industries, click here