NEW YORK - U.S. employers expect to hire more new workers in 2010 than they did in 2009, a sign the U.S. recession may be easing its grip, research showed on Tuesday.

One-fifth of employers plan to add full-time, permanent employees next year, up from 14 percent in 2009, according to, an online jobs site that surveyed more than 2,700 hiring managers and human resource professionals.

Just 9 percent said they plan to cut head count in 2010, down from 16 percent in 2009, according to the nationwide survey.

There's definitely an uptick. The number of employers who say they're going to add full-time workers is up from last year, and that is very good news, said Michael Erwin, senior career advisor at CareerBuilder.

Yet 61 percent of employers said they do not plan to change staffing levels, showing a degree of caution, he said.

Employers are waiting to see what the economy does and what the new year brings, he said.

One-third of employers plan to add technology jobs, while 28 percent said they would add customer service jobs and 23 percent said they planned to increase their sales force.

The employers we're talking to are really shifting from cost containment, Erwin said. Now it's really about growth so I think you're going to see customer service jobs added, sales jobs added.

Those are really what can grow the business and make the money come back and get the customers back, he said.

Salaries and benefits are likely to stay tight, the research found.

Fifty-seven percent of employers expect to see higher salaries for existing employees in 2010, down from 65 percent in 2009. Also, 29 percent plan to increase salaries in offers to new employees, down from 33 percent in 2009.

As to bonuses, medical coverage and matching 401k contributions, the survey found 37 percent of employers plan to cut benefits in 2010, up from 32 percent who trimmed in 2009.

Many employers -- 37 percent -- said they plan to take advantage of the large labor pool and replace low-performing employees in 2010.

The survey was conducted online for by Harris Interactive from November 5 to November 23. The overall results had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.88 percentage points.

CareerBuilder is owned by Gannett Co Inc, Tribune Co, McClatchy Co and Microsoft Corp.

(Editing by Doina Chiacu)