Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service. Thirty-eight percent of U.S. companies are planning to trim IT staff this year, but certain skills remain hot, according to a new study by the IT staffing company Veritude.

The poll, taken in the fourth quarter of 2008, shows that companies' hiring plans plunged dramatically in recent months. In a study Veritude conducted during the second quarter of last year, just 4 percent of respondents planned to make cuts.

In addition, the new survey found that only 38 percent of companies intend to add staff, down from 52 percent in the previous study. One silver lining is that the anticipated cuts are not especially deep; 22 percent of those who plan to reduce staff said they would eliminate between 1 percent and 5 percent, Veritude said. But workers with business-intelligence skills and expertise in C, C++ and C# programming should fare especially well in the weakened job market, according to the study.

Also, 17 percent of companies are now looking for Mac developers, more than tripling the previous survey's finding of 5 percent. But demand for enterprise architects has declined significantly, indicating that companies are both reluctant to shoulder the larger salaries such individuals receive, and also scaling back on long-term project planning. Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents that intend to hire workers on a "temp-to-perm" basis shot up to 56 percent from 27 percent in the previous study, which suggests that companies planning to add jobs are doing so tentatively.

Story copyright 2009 IDG News Service Inc.