Social media will peak. Facebook's decline from its offering price is emblematic of what's happening on the ground. Companies are not seeing a return on investment on their spend on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and so many are pulling back. And even social media consultants are less enthusiastic about the effectiveness of what they're selling.
Longshot prediction: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, like MySpace before them, will soon become yesterday's fad. What will be next? The shallowness of Facebook "friends" and Twitter "followers" will resurrect the need for real connections. MeetUps, live and virtual, will grow, fueled by a likely continued poor job market—people with time on their hands will take the time to meet others in-person.
Longshot prediction: Tablet devices such as iPads and traditional smartphones such as the iPhone5 will soon become obsolete. The replacement? Phablets, all-in-one devices with a 5" screen, with the prototype being the Samsung Galaxy S3 and soon S4.
Energy-efficiency jobs. The solar and wind stock indices are down more than 90 percent(!) from their December 2007 highs. That bodes poorly for the alternative energy industry. But reducing the carbon footprint and increasing energy independence remain important, so government will likely reallocate tax dollars from alternative energy to making buildings and vehicles more efficient, from roads to mass transit. Job growth will reflect those changes in priority. In addition, utilities' conversion to smart grids will create jobs for information technology and engineering types.
Longshot prediction: The next-generation safer nuclear power plants will become acceptable as memories of Fukushima fade, replaced by promises of an ultra-safe, zero-carbon-footprint, unlimited source of clean energy.
Immigration jobs. One of President Obama's top priorities is comprehensive immigration reform. That will create government jobs for bureaucrats to administer the legalization process and teachers to train immigrants to pass the citizenship test. Once legal, the immigrants will be eligible for Obamacare, which will trigger great demand for bilingual healthcare providers. That will also spur a need for social service providers; for example, counselors and social workers. Whatever business you're in, having 12 million people "come out of the shadows" may create business opportunities that should be considered when planning for 2013 and beyond.
Un- and underemployment will rise. There's a perfect storm for increased unemployment: returning vets, boomers that can't afford to retire, 12 million illegal immigrants now eligible for legal employment, a sluggish economy here and worldwide, relative strength in China, people-replacing technology such as voice and pattern recognition, slowed hiring by government, and increased payroll costs of hiring Americans (e.g. Obamacare, paid family leave, rising workers compensation costs, etc.). Unemployment will thus rise and part-time and temp work become the new normal. And ever more work will be offshored to low-cost countries now that American companies are learning how to work more successfully with a remote workforce.
Materialism will decline. People will spend less both because of a values shift and because the economy will remain sluggish, quite possibly reverting back to recession. This means that companies that produce basic products should do better than luxury firms. Jobs should be stronger at a Procter & Gamble than at a Dolce & Gabbana. I plan to continue dollar-cost averaging into P&G, Amazon, and FXI, the China equivalent of the Dow Jones 30.
The no-brainer prediction. Online shopping will continue to take market share from brick-and-mortar stores. The ever-better interfaces on shopping sites combined with the ever more onerous traffic and parking problems makes this the prediction you can most bet on.
Career implications: Jobs should be more available at top online retailers than brick-and-mortar-centric ones: Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Overstock, and Zappos, plus delivery services such as FedEx, UPS, and the upstart OnTrac.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian called Dr. Nemko "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach" and he was Contributing Editor for Careers at U.S. News. His sixth and seventh books were published in 2012: How to Do Life: What They Didn't Teach You in School and What's the Big Idea? 39 Disruptive Proposals for a Better America. More than 1,000 of his published writings are free on www.martynemko.com. He posts here every Monday