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The 10 fastest growing American industries

Hot sauce, solar panels and generic drugs are up, up, up!

Following on from its report on the fastest dying industries in the US (which included DVD rental, appliance repair and newspaper publishing), IBISworld has released a more upbeat list: the 10 fastest growing industries.

In no particular order, as far as I can tell, they are:

  • Generic pharmaceuticals
  • Solar panel manufacturing
  • For-profit universities
  • Pilates and yoga studios
  • Self-tanning product manufacturing
  • 3-D printer manufacturing
  • Social network game development
  • Hot sauce production
  • Green and sustainable building construction
  • Online eyeglasses sales

Unlike the dying list, which was full of textbook cases of disruption and victims of globalisation (three seperate types of clothing manufacturing made the list, all victims of outsourcing), this is more disconnected. There are still some disruptive entrants – no-one would want to be an offline glasses shop with growth like that in the main competitors – but beyond that the entrants all tell their own stories.

The biggest group is green technology. Both building construction and solar panel manufacturing make the list, and they will have benefited from a perfect storm of new technology, governmental subsidies and growing demand. While solar panel manufacturing is expected to tick over at a steady 10 per cent growth for the next five years (which is hardly bad), green constructing is predicted to go stratospheric, with annual growth between 20 and 30 per cent for the same period. IBISworld see it going from a $100bn industry to an almost $300bn dollar one.

The only area that even close to matches that is social gaming. Epitomised by the Farmville giants Zynga, this is expected to go from $4.5bn to $12bn, with almost all of that growth happening in the next three years. If that is the case, then acquisitions like the $200m Zynga spent on Draw Something developers OMGpop will repeat sooner rather than later, at least until the bubble bursts.

Some stories are simpler. Self-tanning probably represents a growth in awareness of the danger of normal tanning, while generic pharmaceuticals scraped on to the list by having continuous growth of between 5 and 10 per cent for most of the last decade, largely due to the astronomical costs of healthcare in the USA.

Some are just baffling. Quite why for-profit universities and hot sauce have seen such booms is trickier to explain. To a certain extent, they may be our fault. IBISworld puts the growth in the latter down to:

Demographic consumption trends, immigration and international demand from Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.