One of the mailing lists I’m on has had a discussion recently on how professionals in our field can adapt to changes in the world. The conversation started when someone asked what cities were doing significant hiring, so they could relocate there and find a job.
While this is certainly an option, it may not be the best one. Just because an area has low unemployment doesn’t mean you will find a job there, let alone a job you like. Furthermore, that area may not continue to grow, and you may find yourself having to move again in a few years.
A better strategy is to be flexible not in where you will live (though that can be important), but to be flexible in the type of work you will do, and the industries in which you will do it. By applying your skills to a new field or industry, you can continue to learn and grow professionally without having to relocate (unless you just like moving!).
If you keep up on trends in your industry, and in the world in general, you can see the early warning signs of companies and industries that are on the declines, and ones that are growing. If your area is on the way out, start learning the vocabulary and quirks of ones that are on the rise, so you will be positioned to transition when/if it becomes necessary.
To help you out, Fortune magazine has published a list of growing market segments. Many of these segments are science-related, or could benefit from scientific input. Which ones are of interest to you? Which ones will you keep an eye on, or learn a little more about?