These 6 Industries Are Set to Grow in 2021 and Beyond

Q3 2021 economic forecasts are in flux amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related supply chain disruptions. It’s anyone’s guess as to how or when things will shake out and some semblance of normalcy will return.

Despite the lingering uncertainty, forecasters broadly agree that some industries are set to outperform in the coming quarters. In some cases, that expected performance comes down to pent-up demand. In others, the causes are secular or structural, predicated on long-term and likely permanent shifts in consumer and business behavior. 

So, which industries are among the winners? Read on to find out.

1. Telehealth

This one should be no surprise to anyone following healthcare developments during the COVID-19 pandemic (which is most of us, let’s be real). In December 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made permanent what had until then been temporary pandemic-era changes to Medicare-paid telehealth services. 

These changes had the effect of broadening telehealth access and reducing telehealth costs for millions of seniors. Privately insured patients stood to benefit as well.

Of course, the real beneficiaries of the change were medical professionals and healthcare systems that rely on telehealth for revenue. Now that telehealth is fully mainstream, they’ll reap those benefits for years to come.

2. Construction and Home Improvement

Although supply chain issues have blunted the trend somewhat, the construction industry undeniably benefited from Americans’ and Europeans’ pandemic-induced lifestyle changes. Desperately seeking more space at home, millions of newly remote workers finished basements, added over-garage suites, or simply upsized to larger houses farther out in the suburbs.

The increase in demand for building materials and finishes spurred a wave of investment and consolidation in the industry. From massive growth in the home improvement retail industry to private equity-backed sales of building envelope manufacturers, the post-pandemic environment has been very good indeed for enterprises with construction exposure. (To cite just one example, OpenGate Capital founder Andrew Nikou oversaw the sale of a French skylights and fire safety division to a larger building envelope firm.)

3. Home Healthcare

Telehealth can’t solve every healthcare challenge. But the pandemic made clear that the safest place for vulnerable older people is very often the homes they know and love. 

That’s good news for the rapidly expanding ranks of home healthcare aides. These tireless professionals perform the sorts of essential but thankless jobs that enable people to live independently for longer. As life expectancies rebound coming out of the pandemic, demand for their services will only increase. 

4. Remote Learning

Few parents were happy with the sudden shift to remote learning during the pandemic. But many who weren’t sure that the change was a good thing for their kids were all too willing to pursue remote learning for their own purposes. 

As more Americans than ever look to change careers or gain new skills, demand for flexible online courses and degree programs is set to skyrocket. Purveyors of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), including elite universities like Yale and Harvard, stand to benefit. So do enterprises that sell more specialized courses or certification modules.

5. Fast-Casual Food Service 

In an era of rapidly rising wages and ultra-tight labor markets, a historically low-wage, labor-intensive industry would normally struggle. Not fast-casual food service.

It’s true that many old-school food-service operators are feeling the strain right now. Many won’t survive. Under the surface, however, innovation churns. 

One of the most noticeable developments is the rise of “ghost kitchens,” lean food preparation shops that operate exclusively for the benefit of delivery customers. Ghost kitchens gained favor during the pandemic, and when established restaurateurs realized they could be more profitable than full-service eating houses, the smart money rushed in. Now, it looks like it’s here to stay.

6. Home Fitness

We can now say that the infamous Peloton lady had the last laugh. Today’s home gyms look nothing like they did back in the Before Times, and there are a lot more of them too. The pandemic forced the formerly sleepy fitness equipment industry to innovate its way to success; AI personal trainers and data-driven workout regimens are the predictable results. Watch this space, as they say.

The Growth Story Isn’t Over Yet for These Industries

The post-pandemic economy hasn’t lived up to expectations. While headline growth numbers have been impressive in countries that aren’t still in its throes, the COVID pandemic clearly caused longer-term damage to production capacity, supply chains, and labor markets. It’s anyone’s guess as to when conditions will normalize.

Things could get back to normal soon in these industries, if they haven’t already. Not because they’re not affected by the same macro forces hindering commerce everywhere else, but because they enjoy powerful secular tailwinds that in some cases predate the pandemic and could now strengthen in its wake. 

If you’re looking to make that long-awaited career change or launch a business in a new industry, now could be the time. And these could be the spots to pick.

Adam Hansen