Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Without a doubt, the high-tech sector is providing most of the excitement in this floundering, mind-boggling bad economy. No further proof is needed that tech is preventing a global recession from getting worse than in Monday’s report on IT job hiring in North Carolina.

Not that the Tar Heel state and high-tech Triangle drive the world, of course. But the snapshot about IT hiring in July provided by the North Carolina Technology Association, TEKsystems and SKILLproof demonstrates that IT is growing. ()

Just about every other sector in this economy s-t-i-n-k-s.

Unemployment in the IT sector nationwide was 5.3 percent, TEKsystem reports, based on federal job data. That’s half the overall work force.

But look inside the IT numbers, which show that job openings surged more than 18 percent from June. Job availability has increased for six consecutive months.

However, what is striking about the July average of 3,970 is that the total is 900 HIGHER than in July of 2008.

In other words, IT hiring is getting back to pre-recession levels.

Talk about a remedy for depression and recession!

The IT Job Trends data also shows that through June North Carolina’s IT job force had grown some 4 percent this year.

These aren’t part-time census or government jobs. They are high-paying private sector jobs that could provide the foundation for recovery – maybe even growth.

With unemployment at double-digit levels and the real total nearly double that when you factor in all the people who have dropped out of the work force (therefore not counted as unemployed – now isn’t that stupid?), thank the maker that high-tech companies are hiring – and other firms are filling IT jobs internally.

Some examples from the report show demand across the board:

Systems engineering and support positions are up nearly 400 percent to 1,100 from 330 a year ago.

A key sign: Hiring for sales jobs.

Companies aren’t hiring sales people unless there are prospects for deals, and the number of sales and marketing spots surged to 410 last month compared to 100 in July 2009.

Software development and IT architect/consultant job availability increased sharply, too.

In terms of specific skills, programmers are needed from Oracle to SAP (up to 220 from just 40 last year.)

So what’s the bottom line?

Refresh your job skills, perhaps retrain yourself, update the resume and go after a high-tech job.

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