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The Top 11 Fastest-Growing Industries


Most businesses and services are still slowly recovering from the trauma of the Great Recession. These 11 categories, however, are already in blue-sky territory.

We made it through the darkest hour and have begun to see the light of dawn. The Great Recession that reduced the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) to 6,547.05 points, dropped the value of all US stocks from $22 trillion to $9 trillion, and, in the words of Warren Buffett, took our economy "off a cliff," is now an arm's length behind us.

Recovery mode is slow but sure. Annualized growth of 3.3% is forecasted over the next five years thanks, in large part, to industries fathered by the Web. In fact, more than doubling the pace of the GDP is the increase of US mobile Internet connections that have enjoyed and will continue to see an estimated annual rise of 7.9% in the 10-year period between 2008 and 2018.

IBISWorld has identified 10 standout industries that are outpacing the rest of the economy by feeding off surging Internet traffic and a robust mobile device market.

Recruitment Websites

The year was 1999. Eminem took hip-hop by storm with his major-label debut, The Slim Shady LP. President Clinton was tried by the Senate for impeachment. The Y2K bug was threatening to upend modern society. And (NYSE:MWW) launched with more than 1 million resumes.

This website debut ushered in a new era of job searching and recruiting that would replace newspaper ads, paper resumes, and the USPS by tapping the promise of the new-fangled World Wide Web and electronic mail. A decade and a half later finds the entire civilized world comfortably settled into an online existence -- looking for work on the (cooler-sounding) Web or Net and shooting emails to prospective employers. Internet recruitment has ripened into a stand-alone industry that reaches hundreds of millions of visitors on websites each month and will take in $1.7 billion this year.

Economic downturn and all, properties like CareerBuilder, LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), and Indeed have grown an annualized 11.9% since 2003 and can look forward to that rate of growth over the next five years by focusing on specialized niche job markets and job seekers.

Fantasy Sports

Before the Internet, fantasy sports was an uncharted and unglamorous, paper-and-pencil and snail-mail entity -- many leaps and bounds from the highly profitable enterprise that is now counted among the fastest growing industries in the world.

Today, drafting and managing fantasy teams of real-life professional ball players is big business, $1.2 billion to be exact. Fantasy sports service firms develop software and online platforms that have taken the activity from tight-knit social circles to literally any sports fan in the universe with an Internet connection. Since 2003, the industry has reaped an "explosive" 240% rate of growth and, as content continues to accommodate mobile devices, the forecasted 13.1% rise through 2018 should stay right on track.

Furniture Websites

With a far wider selection available on websites that offer crisp, zoomable color photos, slipping away is the consumer's need to actually sit in a chair before buying it. Sure, shoppers still visit the Ashley Furniture store, IKEA, and Pottery Barn (NYSE:WSM), but the new wave of home goods and decor is happening exclusively online and also in the emerging market of curated flash sales sites such as Joss & Main, which promise below-retail pricing and have mobile apps built into their business models. This year, online furniture revenue will climb to over $7.5 billion and the industry will have experienced annualized growth of 13.8% between 2008 and 2018.

Shoe Websites

Threatening to put the Al Bundys of the world on the unemployment rolls is the virtual shoe market. This industry saw $8.9 billion in 2013 sales and will expand every year by 17% until 2018. Akin to the growing trend of website furniture purchases, shoe shoppers' confidence has grown enough in the industry to click the "buy" button despite being, perhaps, thousands of miles away from the actual product. And when sites like Zappos let customers try on as many pairs as they want with free shipping and returns on all orders, little incentive is left to leave the house.
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