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The Fastest-Growing Business Type in Every State


Different regions have particular strengths. Silicon Valley is a tech hub of course, the Midwest is known for its agriculture and the Gulf Coast has long had a lucrative oil industry. But if you want to have employment in a thriving part of the local economy, it’s a good idea to know what each area’s specialty will be tomorrow. By having an idea about what kind of businesses are growing the fastest, you’ll be more informed about how secure employment in a field that will help you generate wealth that you can build with your financial advisor. Below we look at Census Bureau data to find the fastest-growing business type in every state.

To find the fastest-growing business type in every state, we looked at the number of employees by each business type in each state in 2016 and compared that to the same figure for 2015. Check out our data and methodology below to see where we got our data and how we put it together to create our analysis.

Key Findings

  • Software publishing dominates locally and nationally – Some industries tend to be locally focused. Think of timber in Oregon or oil in Texas. Some, on the other hand, are not tied down locally and so can proliferate throughout the country. Software publishing is one of these. As a business, it led the way in five states and was the second-fastest growing business type in the country. In total, software publishers employ 546,200 people as of 2016.
  • Rocky future for coal mining – Employment in coal mining and support activities for coal mining decreased by 21% and 30% respectively. Nationwide, our data shows a decline of 125,250 jobs in support activities for mining and just under 15,000 in coal mining, specifically. Those looking to maintain steady employment and grow their wealth to invest may want to heed the canary on this industry.
business type


Topping our list is manufacturing. Census Bureau data shows that 12 states have their fastest-growing business type in manufacturing. Midwestern states are well-represented in that list. Illinois, Michigan, Kansas, Ohio and Wisconsin all fall under this category. This is a good sign for these states, as they tended to be the ones hit hardest by the decline in manufacturing jobs.

The fastest-growing business category in manufacturing was audio and video equipment manufacturing in Illinois. Our data shows that employment in that business grew 350%, from 180 to 809. Two other business type and state combinations also saw total manufacturing employment grow by over 100%. In Colorado, there were 2,195 people employed in motor vehicle parts manufacturing companies compared to 923 in 2015. That is equal to a growth of 138%. In Wisconsin, the number of people working for companies that manufacture and reproduce magnetic and optical media grew by 124%.

In total, the average growth for manufacturing businesses that led their states was 93.5%.


One theme of the 21st century is how information and computers are changing the way we live and work. Workers at the top of this food chain who work in tech reap many rewards. Growing tech companies, of course, need to hire other non-tech workers. That, in turn, provides even more employment. In total, nine different states have an information business as the fastest-growing business type.

One of the top industries to be working in is tech. Think of companies like Microsoft or Apple. Our data shows that, of the nine states where the fastest-growing business is in the information industry, five are involved in software publishing. These businesses have shown remarkable growth. In Maine, software publishers saw 326% growth in employment. In Arkansas, that figure is just under 200%, and in Idaho, the number of people employed by software publishing firms grew from 429 to 1,030. One of the more impressive states is Georgia, where the total number of people employed in software publishing firms grew to 20,200 from 12,000. Software publishing was also the fastest-growing firm type in Missouri. There, employment in software publishing grew 48%.

One of the ways the information industry makes our lives easier today is by quickly processing massive amounts of data to help us make decisions. Data processing makes getting around town and avoiding traffic much easier than it used to be and helps people find love from the comfort of their homes. Data processing, hosting and related services is the fastest-growing business type in two states: North Dakota and Alabama. In North Dakota, 563 people were employed by data processing and hosting firms, up from 339 in 2015. In Alabama data processing and hosting is big business. The number of people employed by data processing and hosting firms increased by 48% or nearly 1,400.

The other firm type in the information category that led a state was motion picture and video industries. This was the fastest-growing business type in two states: Louisiana and New Mexico.

Transporting and Warehousing

Moving things and people around the country is a fairly popular business. In eight different states transportation and warehousing is the fastest-growing business-type in terms of employment.

New Jersey is the overall leader in this category. From 2015 to 2016 the number of people working in pipeline transportation of natural gas grew by 166%. Unfortunately for New Jersey, while the number of jobs is growing fast it is not a an immensely impactful business when it comes to employment. As of 2016 this business type had only 307 employees in New Jersey.

Other business types that fell into this category include freight transportation arrangement in New Hampshire, interurban and rural bus transportation in North Carolina, support activities for water transportation in Rhode Island and Montana and scenic and sightseeing transportation (land) in California. Employment growth in these business types ranged from 42% in Montana to 110% Connecticut.

The final business type in this service is local messengers and local delivery. Firms that operate local messenger and local delivery led the way in two state: Connecticut and Texas. In Connecticut, local messenger and local delivery firms increased their employment by 110%. In Texas local delivery appears to be a pretty big deal. More than 3,000 people are employed in companies which deal in local delivery.

Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services

While this category may sound confusing, it is best to think of the businesses here like contracting firms. Establishments that operate in this sector specialize in supporting other organizations by performing their day-to-day operations. This includes office administration, clerical services document preparation, hiring services, security, cleaning and waste removal services.

Businesses that do this work tend to see high growth and already employ large numbers of employees. In Washington, for example, the number of people employed in facilities support services increased from 1,890 to 7,209 over the 2015 to 2016 time period. That is equivalent to a percent growth of 281%. In Nebraska, employment services firms saw employment grow by more than 200%, from 30,400 to 93,895. In Delaware, supporting office administration has become a lucrative business. Hiring for firms in that sector increased by 45%. Arizona and South Dakota also saw their fastest-growing business type in this service. In Arizona, the top-ranking business type was travel arrangement and reservation services, and in South Dakota, it was remediation and other waste management services.

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

Exactly 10% of states saw their fastest-growing business type involved in this service. Establishments and businesses which fall under this category include those that participate, produce or promote live events meant for public viewing, establishments that preserve and exhibit objects and establishments that enable patrons to enjoy recreational activities. The business type that may come to mind first for many people are spectator sports. So you favorite local team and its employees fall under this category. Museums are also included as well as your local theater.

In Vermont the number of people employed by performing arts companies grew by 366%, the largest in our study. If you are living in Vermont and want to find work in the performing arts field, it may still be difficult. Only about 690 residents are employed by performing arts companies.

Spectator sports are the fastest-growing business type in Massachusetts and South Carolina. In those two states, spectator sports grew by over 54%. In Massachusetts especially, where local professional teams have had more than a decade of sustained success, spectator sports are really growing. From 2015 to 2016, the number of people employed by spectator sports grew by 1,300.

Data and Methodology

In order to find the fastest-growing business type in each state, we looked at data for all 50 states. Specifically, we looked at the following two metrics:

  • 2015 employment. This is the number of people employed in each 4-code NAICS business type. We excluded any business type that had fewer than 100 employees to ensure higher quality data. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • 2016 employment. This is the number of people employed in each 4-code NAICS business type. We excluded any business type that had fewer than 100 employees to ensure higher quality data. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2016 County Business Patterns Survey.

We also excluded any business type with “other” in the name to avoid ambiguity.

Finally, we found the percent change in total employment from 2015 to 2016. We then ranked each 4-code NAICS business type in each state. We used these rankings to find the fastest-growing business type in each state.

Fastest-growing business type

Tips for Managing your Investments

  • Whether it’s maximizing the returns on your savings, or finding ways to lower your tax exposure, financial advisors can make the different between a secure and unsecure financial future. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • No matter how robust the industry you’re working in is, it’s a good idea not to invest all your savings. First of all, it’s important to have an emergency fund of liquid assets ready to go in case you run into some trouble. That will stop you from having to take out any unnecessary costly loans in case of something like a medical emergency. Secondly, if you are investing in something long term like a business or a house, make sure you can afford it. With homes especially, it can be tempting to go overboard and buy the house of your dreams. But it won’t be worth it if you have to sell it after a few years when you find out you can’t afford your mortgage payments.

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