We noticed the other day that the Judge Group, a professional services firm with a big IT practice, has something like 500 jobs posted on Dice. Is that a sign of optimism?

The company's CEO, Martin Judge, says it is. "We're seeing from a standpoint of IT permanent and contracting that we're not only back to normal after the recession, but we're at the highest point we've been at as a company," he told Dice News. Indeed, his company reports its best business in 40 years.

"We've made a decision to put our money back into the company and hire while the economy is recovering," Judge explained. "We can't find enough people in the IT area - and we can't find enough recruiters. We're hiring recruiters as well as dealing with the clients. So we expect to put 30 percent more contractors to work next year. And we're going to hire another 130 internal employees." 

Judge isn't alone. Small to mid-size companies are the most optimistic for 2011. A CDW IT Monitor of the IT marketplace says small-business owners are showing greater confidence in their ability to make tech investments that will help them become more efficient. Also, a survey of IT hiring forecasts for 2011 shows directors planning to do more hiring next year, though they're still relying in part on contract or temporary workers.

-- Dino Londis