Business Brains

Fastest-growing and fastest-shrinking industries, according to LinkedIn

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Social networking giant studied the 'data exhaust' of 150 million-plus members who share information and insights about career changes.

LinkedIn, the social networking site for professionals, has been studying its massive membership base -- 150-million strong -- and has drawn up some interesting conclusions about where the growth is in today's economy.

By tracking people's jobs and job changes over the past four years, the social networking site was able to generate data on what industries were hottest, and which ones people were running away from. As LinkedIn's Scott Nicholson puts it, "it’s just a hint of what we can see by scouring the 'data exhaust' of 150 million-plus LinkedIn members who share information and insights with each other."

Nicholson's research team identified industry trends from 2007 through 2011 "by longitudinally following anyone in the US who has a position listed in 2007. We adopted this methodology to control for the incredible growth in our member base since people who join LinkedIn after 2007 still are likely to list a job they had in 2007. This provides us a sample size in the tens of millions."

Of course, there may be somewhat of a bias in the LinkedIn results, as the most active members reporting their career situations are likely to be more tech-savvy and therefore more involved in tech-oriented industries. Nevertheless, it provides an interesting snapshot of where people are going.

Here are the top 10 top growth industries, based on what LinkedIn is seeing. The one major surprise here is to see "public policy" as a growing industry -- this probably overlaps, or may even be interchangeable, with the "think tank" category.

  1. Renewables and environment (+49%)
  2. Internet (+25%)
  3. Online publishing (+24%)
  4. Philanthropy (+17%)
  5. E-learning (+16%)
  6. Public policy (+15%)
  7. International trade & development (+14%)
  8. Think tanks (+13%)
  9. Venture capital (+12%)
  10. Computer games (+11%)

And here is LinkedIn's view of the top shrinking industries. It may not be too surprising to see restaurants as taking a beating, given the recent recession we're climbing out. And the declines in capital markets and banking -- well, it was a nasty time to be in the business. Puzzling is the decline in supermarkets.  The population continues to grow, everyone still has to eat no matter what, and there really isn't an Amazon of supermarkets out there eating everyone's lunch. So what gives? Telecom also seems to be suffering; the rise of Internet-based communications may be behind that.

  1. Newspapers (-28%)
  2. Restaurants (-26%)
  3. Warehousing (-25%)
  4. Capital markets (-21%)
  5. Supermarkets (-20%)
  6. Retail (-15%)
  7. Automotive (-13%)
  8. Construction (-12%)
  9. Banking (-11%)
  10. Telecommunications (-11%)

Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure