Job cuts across the technology sector were strong in 2009, according to new research, however 2010 is predicted to buck the trend with moderate growth.

Last year saw a 12.3 percent increase in job losses over 2008, with 174,629 people getting pink-slips in the sector, according to outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which tracks industry numbers on announced layoffs.

The worst of the downsizing occurred in the first quarter, which is when the overall economy hit rock bottom, CEO John A. Challenger said in a statement. The recession's impact on the tech sector was inescapable.

The tech sector accounted for about 13.2 percent of the total 1.3 million announced job cuts in the United States in 2009, the firm said.

Electronics fared the worst with 65,000 jobs cut-up 55 percent from 2008-while telecommunications lost 9.4 percent fewer jobs in 2009. The computer industry was unchanged, said the report.

It's going to be a slow climb out of this recession, but computer and electronics firms should be among the first to see the turnaround, as companies try to postpone hiring by achieving productivity gains through technology, Challenger said.

Even with the economy showing some nascent signs of recovery beginning the second half of the year, many companies are holding off on investments in new technology. And, with it still [being] difficult for small businesses and startups to obtain loans, there are few opportunities for tech firms to expand their customer base.

With an expected increase in electronic health record conversion in the health care industry and upgrades to the federal government's systems, the firm predicts some growth in technology jobs in 2010.

Despite the potential for improved hiring in the new year, there are a lot people competing for every opening and many employers are very particular about what skills and experience they want new workers to have, Challenger said.

It is critical that technology workers continually update their skills in order to remain competitive. It is necessary to maintain a balance between having specialized skills and having the flexibility of a generalist. It may also be necessary to expand one's search to more industries or geographically.