NC high-tech job openings increase in January. That’s the headline and the good news. 

Top demand is for systems engineers and support personnel. Plus, the demand for IT architects and consultants is up.

But the numbers also need to be put in perspective. More on that in a moment.

Back to the good news.

Yes, indeed, the New Year is off to a promising start for information technology job seekers. The number of high-tech job openings in North Carolina increased in January to 3,590, snapping a streak of six straight monthly declines, according to a new report from the North Carolina Technology Association in its monthly IT Job Trends report.

The daily average of job openings increased from 3,360 in December.

“The fact that January was a better month for job seekers than December makes us hopeful that employers have not lost their optimism,” says the NCTA report, which is compiled with data provided by talent management firm SkillProof and analysis from The Select Group.

Most in demand are systems engineers and support people with 1,040 openings.

Next is IT architects and consultants at 690. Demand in this category as well as hardware engineering (250) and systems engineering (170) was up from December listings.

However, all other categories either dropped or were the same.

Which brings us to the perspective.

While January job openings were up from December, they were far under the 4,120 listings in 2012 and the 4,140 total in January 2011.

Openings also remain far below the nearly 6,000 jobs listed in March of last year when it appeared hiring was back at levels not seen since the 2007 recession. But that surge didn’t hold.

Need proof?

Look at skill set demand – openings increased in only two categories (virtualization, Perl) from a year ago. Many skill set slots have dropped sharply.

For the record, here are the top skill sets needed in January compared to a year earlier:

  • Windows OS, 430 (690)
  • C++/V++, 410 (530)
  • SQL, 410 (670)
  • Linux, 400 (680)
  • Java, 370 (570)
  • Oracle DBMS, 340 (620)
  • Unix, 340 (670)
  • Virtualization technology, 300 (280)
  • ITIL, 280 (290)
  • Business analysis, 270 (480)
  • Large systems technology, 260 (410)
  • Perl, 240 (200)
  • Microsoft SQL server, 200 (430)
  • OO (analysis, design, programming), 150 (150)
  • XML, 140 (250)