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A new report shows that even as unemployment held the line at 9.7 percent in March, online contract work is booming, with some pockets of IT showing a 29 percent year-over-year increase in available gigs.

Compiled by the online talent marketplace company Elance, the Elance Online Talent Report examined the contract bookings for the first quarter of 2010 across its four major job categories of IT, creative, marketing and operations jobs. The report showed that the company’s entire talent pool earned more than $20 million in the first quarter of 2010, an increase of 40 percent year over year.

More specifically, the IT talent pool gained nearly a third more in contract bookings during first quarter of 2010 as compared with first quarter of 2009, an indication that as the economy is recovering many businesses are looking for more creative ways to get the work done–a big opportunity for channel players in the right position.

“Businesses are increasingly incorporating more flexible work arrangements, self-employed workers and a shift to using online workplaces into their strategy,” said Ellen Pack, vice president of marketing at Elance.  “Companies are turning to online talent for mobile development, open source, social media and cloud computing, making these the fastest growing skills in demand on Elance.  In fact, businesses are finding it easier and more cost-effective to hire certain types of talent online, rather than onsite.”

The report showed that the biggest gains were shown in the mobile development skills category, which was boosted by a 98 percent increase in the number of job posts by employers and jumped 21 places in the ranking of most in-demand IT skills.

Other developer skills to make the rankings included social media development and open source skills that help entrepreneurs compete within the Web 2.0 revolution. Elance reported that open source technologies represent 20 percent of the IT Top 50 Skills list, with knowledge of content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal tipping the scales as the most in demand.