Local unemployment climbs
(CNS): Despite good news from the country’s experts that the local economy is improving, the government’s latest annual economic report shows that unemployment continues to climb, with over 1,700 Caymanians registered as unemployed – some 9.8% of the local workforce. Given that not all those who are currently out of work will necessarily register with the labour department, the real figure is likely to be considerably higher. According to the Economics and Statistics Office report, the labour force grew slightly at 0.8% in 2011 to 37,620 and although Caymanians benefitted the most, with the number of employed locals rising by 1.1%, the number of Caymanians out of work has also risen.
The overall number of unemployed was 2,353, with the unemployment rate rising by 0.1 percentage points to 6.3%. The number of Caymanians unemployed reached 1,732, resulting in a Caymanian unemployment rate of 9.8% in 2011. As expected, the unemployment rate for non-Caymanians was lower at 3.1% with 621 people recorded as unemployed.
One of the main factors affecting the unemployment of local workers as opposed to foreign nationals was the continued shrinking employment activity in the construction sector, which fell by 6.3%. Related manufacturing, mining and quarrying also fell by 7.5% and there was a fall of over 10% in administrative and support services, where many locals are employed.
At the close of the year, work permits had contracted by 2.9% from the 20,452 recorded a year ago to 19,852. By 31 March this year, according to the immigration website, the number had fallen again slightly to 20,309.
The rising levels of unemployment set against the numbers of work permits continues to cause concern, however, and during the budget debate the independent member for North Side, Ezzard Miller, warned government to keep a closer eye on unemployment levels among local workers because of the long term implications.
Miller said that government needed to get a grip on the number of unemployed Caymanians given that the over-employment rate was running at 60%. As the government is depending on work permits for funds, it is tempted to ignore the rate of unemployment among local workers. He said this was a vicious circle because government then had to spend more on social support for those who are out of work.
Unemployment is also particularly high in Cayman among young people leaving school and college, where unemployment levels are believed to be around 35%. In the ESO’s latest report on the labour force, which was released in May, only 55% of those aged between 15-24 who are currently in the workforce are employed. More than 50% of the country’s unemployed have been without work for 12 months or more, while almost one in every six has never had a job.
Related story on CNS Business
See ESO report below.
|Cayman Islands Annual Economic Report 2011.pdf||795.48 KB|
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