10 U.S. industries shrinking fast
Many hallmarks of American life have been displaced by new technologies
U.S. businesses are very different today than they were even as recently as ten years ago. A number of manufacturing industries are no longer as dominant as they once were, with large portions of production moving overseas or the product simply becoming obsolete. Other traditionally strong industries have also changed dramatically as digital and online technologies have continued to proliferate.
At the same time, other industries have had meteoric growth. Using data from market research company IBISWorld, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed U.S. industries to find the fastest growing — and the fastest shrinking — industries over the past five years.
Solar power revenues grew more than those of any other U.S. industry between 2009 and 2014. During that same time, recordable media manufacturing’s revenues were the fastest shrinking of any American industry.
Despite being relatively new, some of the fastest growing industries are products and services that are familiar to nearly all American households today. These include the smartphone application makers industry, which has benefitted from the increasing use to mobile devices. Social networks have also been one of the fastest growing industries, with millions of Americans now using Facebook, Twitter, and a number of other social networks on a daily basis.
Many of the fastest shrinking industries were once hallmarks of American life but have been displaced by new technologies. The in-store video and game rental industry is perhaps the most poignant case, as stores such as Blockbuster were unable to keep up with competitors such as Netflix. Recordable media manufacturers, which make CDs and DVDs, and database and directory publishers, which make phone books, have been under pressure from devices such as smartphones. Such mobile devices allow users to play their favorite music and find a phone number with just the push of a button.
In some cases, fast-growing industries are still just nascent players in an otherwise massive industry. For instance, peer-to-peer lending is growing rapidly, but it still represents just a drop in the bucket compared to traditional consumer lending. Further, solar energy production — the fastest growing industry over the last five years — remains a very small source of energy compared to coal, natural gas, and petroleum.
Another important trend for shrinking industries is outsourcing. Both boy’s and men’s apparel and computers can be manufactured at a lower cost using cheaper labor abroad. At the same time, the U.S. now leads the world in a number of fast-growing industries. For example, the growth of smartphone application development has allowed many Americans to build their own businesses through innovative apps.
To identify the fastest growing (and fastest shrinking) U.S. industries, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from IBISWorld on annualized revenue growth rates by industry from 2009 through 2014. In addition, IBISWorld provided annual revenue statistics as well as four-year revenue growth estimates for the period of 2014 through 2018.
These are the fastest shrinking U.S. industries:
10. Online mortgage brokers
The online mortgage brokerage industry was hit hard in the aftermath of the housing crisis, as revenues declined at an annualized rate of 8.7 percent between 2009 and 2014. The slump in housing starts has presented a problem for the industry, as new homes drive the level of new mortgage loans. IBISWorld forecasts that a pickup in housing starts should allow the industry to grow revenues by nearly 16 percent a year over the next four years. However, a potential drag could be refinancing activity, which may slow down if interest rates rise in the coming years.
9. Database & directory publishing
While the database and directory publishing industry includes both online and print publications, mainly yellow and white pages, the dramatic decline in print media and the emergence of search engines have contributed substantially to the industry’s revenue slump. According to IBISWorld, the sale of advertising space accounts for nearly 63 percent of the industry’s revenues, and online advertising has not made up for the lost revenues from printed directories. The industry’s revenue fell by an annualized rate of 9.0 percent from 2009 to less than $11.4 billion this year.
8. Body armor manufacturing
The United States military is the body armor manufacturing industry’s most important client. Following the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and the continued withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, demand for body armor has continued to fall. Industry revenue fell by an annualized rate of 9.5 percent between 2009 and this year. The decline is expected to taper off somewhat, however, to an annualized rate of 2.7 percent. The slightly slower decline is due in large part to increasing demand among local police forces for body armor.
7. Men’s & boys’ apparel manufacturing
Men’s and boys’ apparel manufacturing has been on the decline for some time, largely due to outsourcing to low-cost nations overseas. The industry’s expected revenue of a little more than $1.1 billion this year is about half the 2009 revenue, a 12.5 percent annualized decrease. The number of Americans employed in apparel manufacturing more broadly has also fallen steadily for over a decade. There were nearly 300,000 employees at the beginning of 2004, versus less than 150,000 at the same time this year.
6. DVD, game & video rental
In-store video and game rental has been a declining industry for years. Perhaps no better example of this exists than Blockbuster, which at one time had more than 9,000 stores, according to MarketWatch. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010, was acquired by DISH in 2011, and last year closed its remaining 300 stores. With the emergence of online streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, and HBO GO, in-store rental industry revenues fell at an annualized rate of more than 14 percent from 2009 through 2014, a decline that is only likely to accelerate in the coming years, according to IBISWorld.
5. Data recovery services
Data recovery services may be made obsolete by cloud storage. The industry declined at an annualized rate of 15.5 percent from 2009 through 2014, as companies could increasingly store their data in cloud-based systems from Amazon, Rackspace, Google, and others. Such cloud services also helped shift the responsibility for data protection and recovery away from the individual companies to the storage companies. IBISWorld notes that “as options for data recovery and data loss prevention or backup have expanded over the past five years, demand for industry services has declined.” Companies such as VMWare and Amazon Web Services now tout cloud-based disaster recovery services that protect against a loss of data.
4. Tank and armored vehicles manufacturing
The tank and armored vehicle manufacturing industry is more reliant on government contracts than other industries. U.S. budget cuts to armored vehicle production, as part of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, partly explain the recent revenue declines in the industry. While revenues fell at an annualized rate of 16.3 percent between 2009 and
this year, IBISWorld projects annual declines of just 0.7 percent in the next four years. The more modest expected rate is due in part to
growing demand from foreign
3. Wind turbine installation
Revenue in the wind turbine installation industry fell at an annualized rate of 16.4 percent in the five years through 2014, and it is projected by IBISWorld to slump by an annualized 7.3 percent over the next four years. One problem is that production ramped up prior to the expiration of a federal tax credit for wind production. The International Energy Administration projected in its Renewable Energy Medium Term Market Report that growth in new global wind generation capacity would gradually slow each year through 2020.
2. Computer manufacturing
The U.S. computer manufacturing industry has struggled with increased competition from abroad, as foreign companies benefit from less expensive labor. Further, global PC sales have declined in recent years, as many consumers have opted for smartphones and tablets instead. PC sales, however, may have found a bottom, as market research firms Gartner and IDC both reported better than expected shipments in the third quarter of 2015. Both also reported that hyperscale data centers that provide cloud services were purchasing large amounts of servers, included in the industry. Still, the outlook for U.S. computer makers is hardly favorable, with IBISWorld forecasting a 5.2 percent decrease in revenues per year over the next four years.
1. Recordable media manufacturing
Recordable Media Manufacturing was the fastest falling U.S. industry tracked by IBISWorld, with an annualized 18.4 percent decline between 2009 and 2014. The rise of digital media and online streaming services can explain the growth of many thriving U.S. industries. The trend can also explain the drop in demand for recordable media products such as discs and tapes. However, the recordable media manufacturing industry does not include circuit board-based storage, MP3 players, flash drives, or hard disk. The increased use of these digital storage devices has directly contributed to the industry’s decline. Industry revenues fell by an annualized rate of 18.4 percent since 2009 to less than $2 billion this year.
This article originally appeared in 24/7 Wall St. — a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.