Whether as job seeker, employee or entrepreneur, we make wiser career decisions if we consider societal trends and likely events.
But before asking you to seriously consider this year's set of predictions, you're entitled to see last year's results. Eight of the 12 were essentially correct:
Last Year's Correct Predictions
1. Burgeoning innovation in health care: Computer-aided diagnosis and electronic medical records are revolutionizing health care just in time, as the Affordable Care Act will cover 40 million more United States citizens plus 11.7 million more after the promised legalization of illegal immigrants.
2. A biotech breakthrough: Indeed, as TIME recently reported, Harvard scientists may have figured out how to reverse aging dramatically: 2-year-old mice given a drug showed biomarkers of 6-month-old rodents.
3. Jobs in energy efficiency grow: hydrogen buses, LEED-certified building, insulation, etc. They have: up about 440,000 since 2008, according to a fact sheet published by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
4. True un- and underemployment will rise: The government-reported unemployment rate is down from 2012. But John Williams' Shadow Government Statistics' Alternate Unemployment Rate, which counts discouraged workers and people whose unemployment benefits have run out, is at 23.2 percent, the highest in the 20 years that data has been collected. The website Financial Sense reports the U.S. median household income in real dollars is the lowest since 1995. The Center on Budget and Policy Priority reports that about 47 million Americans participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the food stamp program), the most in history.
5. Telework continues to grow: Not withstanding Marissa Mayer's edict prohibiting telecommuting at Yahoo, new data supports the value of telecommuting, and ever more employers are allowing or even requiring employees to work remotely at least part of the time. Fueling the trend is not just real estate cost saving, but the fact that it enables employers to hire the best (and cheapest) candidates, whether they live in Azerbaijan or Zululand.
6. Progress toward reinventing education: In flipped classrooms, traditional homework is replaced by online interactive-video instruction by top teachers, with live class time spent mainly on answering questions and coaching individual students. And massive open online courses (MOOCs) enable even a high school dropout to take courses, often for free, from top-university professors and experts from outside academe. Of course, as with any new approach, success is yet far from realized (as IT executive Irving Wladawsky-Berger recently wrote in a column for The Wall Street Journal), but change certainly is afoot.
7. The Middle East conflicts indeed have complexified: Enter Syria, renewed violence in Iraq and deep Israeli mistrust of a U.S. deal with Iran.
8. The no-brainer prediction was that online shopping will increase. Indeed, Christmas Day online sales were up 16.5 percent over the same period last year, as reported by IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.
Last Year's Incorrect Predictions
1. Social media has not yet peaked, evidenced by Twitter's stock price, which, as of this writing, is 250 percent higher than when it had its IPO less than two months ago.
2. Immigration-related jobs haven't yet increased significantly, which isn't surprising in that President Obama hasn't yet been able to convince Congress to pass a bill legalizing illegal immigrants.
3. Materialism hasn't declined: MasterCard SpendingPulse reports holiday spending was up 2.3 percent from 2012.
4. America is not moving leftward. Likely affected by the Obamacare rollout, a recent Gallup poll reports that 42 percent lean Republican (up from 39 percent in December 2012) and 44 percent lean Democrat (down from 47 percent a year ago.)
Predictions for 2014 and Beyond
This writer is doubling down on those previously incorrect predictions:
Facebook and Twitter fade, LinkedIn and a cooler competitor rise. Forbes recently reported that Facebook use is declining. Its and Twitter's stock price will be lower at the end of 2014 than 2013. Instagram and Snapchat will fade. LinkedIn will do better because it's now helpful to so many people's careers. So if you're contemplating trying to make yourself more marketable by becoming a social media marketing person, it may be too late.
It's time for the next big young-person's app, which will likely be career-related. Perhaps LinkedIn will get cooler or a new competitor aimed at 17 to 25 year-olds will emerge.
Immigration jobs burgeon. President Obama has said that legalizing this country's illegal immigrants will be the top domestic priority for 2014. Legalization would spawn many government jobs administering the likely labyrinthine legalization process, jobs for teachers to prepare immigrants to pass the citizenship exam, plus more jobs in the health care, social welfare and criminal justice systems, as well in businesses providing foreign-language news, ethnic food and entertainment.
Materialism will decline. That is a risky prediction given America's long-standing love affair with buying stuff, but anecdotally, the schools' and colleges' relentless bashing of materialism seems to be taking hold. For example, a small but growing percentage of teenagers are feeling manipulated by high-flying corporations that sell overpriced, evanescent styles. Those savvy teens feel it's cooler to eschew such ephemera in favor of low-cost, longer half-life fashion.
Prediction: Stocks of former fashionista stores will continue their slide toward zero. Sure, a few people at the very top will keep buying $5,000 name-brand originals, but that will increasingly be seen as passé. Career implications: Redirect from the luxurious to the mainstream.
Leftward ho. The public's short memory will make Obamacare's glitchy rollout fade in electoral importance. The ever-larger percentage of Americans on public assistance and the Democrats' redistributive message, more savvy ground game and Internet strategy will enable them to do surprisingly well in upcoming elections.
Next Monday: Nine new predictions.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian called Dr. Nemko "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach." His latest books are 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. He writes weekly for AOL.com as well as for USNews.com. More than 1,000 of his published writings are free on www.martynemko.com.