The American economy and the industries that power it have experienced fascinating change over the last half century. An interesting way to track that change is by following the largest, most powerful companies in the United States has they make their way up and down the annual Fortune 500 list.

Slant Marketing has done just that and compiled their findings into a super interesting interactive that can be seen here.

They reviewed the top 20 companies of the Fortune 500, from 1965 to 2015.  For reach year, they grouped companies by industry and calculated that industries revenue within the top 20.  They’ve also created a more in depth look, but creating a secondary static graphic of the data that shows the companies by year and how they rank, along with their total revenue.  They also include major events that have happened within those years that have had an impact on the economic landscape.

Their data shows a couple of interesting story lines to consider:

  • There is one consistently dominating sector in the American economy and that is Oil. Exxon Mobile is consistently in the top 3 companies over the past year and that industries revenue easily tops all the other industries by a wide margin.
  • The auto industry is no longer king in America. For much of the 20th century, the automotive industry and General Motors in particular ruled the American economy ranking first or second on the list.  By 2015, the company has fallen to sixth on the Fortune 500 list and has been displaced by modern giants of industry like Walmart, Apple and Berkshire Hathaway.
  • Many industries have boomed in or around 1995 because of the Internet becoming more mainstream. The retail industry saw huge gains and has remained steady and growing in that time period largely as a result of the growth of Amazon and Apple.
  • Auto and Oil have been the biggest industries throughout the last 50 years. Giants in the computer and technology industry have still yet to overtake both Oil and Auto on the Fortune 500 list.
  • The banking industry was a mainstay on the top of the list and continued to see growth until 2010 when the bank and housing industry collapsed. Since then both have declined sharply.

This data shows that industry is ever evolving and always changing.  Some companies and industries may dominate and move the American economy for one period, but that doesn’t always guarantee long-term success.

The Evolution Of The American Economy

Visualizing the evolution of the American economy over the past 50 years

Infographic source: Slantmarketing.com