Even though North Carolina’s unemployment rate remains one of the worst in the country, some companies are hiring. Especially active, according to a new survey, are technology and life science startups

Signs of pent-up hiring demand are evident across the Triangle.

A job fair in RTP today sold out all spots available for corporate booths.

The recent “Jobs Under the Big Top” event in Durham drew a packed house as companies sought to sell themselves to potential workers.

The East Coast Game Conference taking place today and Thursday in Raleigh is focusing on jobs and career tracks.

And on Wednesday, the N.C. Biotech Center announced a partnership with startup Beaker to help connect life science companies with new recruits.

These pieces of anecdotal evidence certainly support a new hiring report out from Silicon Valley Bank that finds 87 percent of startups participating in the survey (750 in all)  are looking to hire. That total is up 4 percentage points from a year ago and 14 points from 2009 when SVB launched the survey. Of the firms hiring, just over 40 percent have 10 or fewer employees. 

Unfortunately, the number of jobs in N.C. is not huge.

North Carolina didn’t crack the top five biggest hiring locations, which were:

1. Texas

2. Washington

3. Massachusetts

4. Southern California

5. (tie) Silicon Valley

5. (tie) New York

A startup hiring job website that lists openings shows 187 jobs in the Triangle, another 44 in Charlotte and 26 in the Triad.

But at least there are opportunities – and more may be coming.

The entrepreneurs running these startups are more excited about an improving economy with 74 percent saying they expect business to improve.

Hiring is hottest in hardware (90 percent), software (91 percent) and cleantech (90) percent, but healthcare is healthy too at 78 percent.

One big problem is that 9 in 10 companies say they can’t find employees with the skills required.

A big shortcoming is in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with 82 percent of executives saying they want STEM-trained workers.

Hardware startups cite STEM needs most at 67 percent followed by healthcare (45 percent), cleantech (39 percent) and software (35 percent).

“Tech companies are a bright spot in the economy worldwide, which is evident from the significant number of startups in the US and the UK that expect to grow and hire this year,” said Greg Becker, president and CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, about the survey. “There is a lot of opportunity to put people to work at startups, which is particularly welcome news since jobs in general are recovering slowly. Investments in STEM education and policies that support tech businesses will help people take advantage of jobs, and benefit economic growth overall.”

SVB defines startups with less than $100 million in revenue and fewer than 500 employees.