Cayman’s population tops 60,000

A recent review by the Caymanian Compass has revealed that Cayman’s current population is likely well above 60,000 people and could even be approaching 65,000.

The government’s latest official estimate from the Economics and Statistics Office for fall 2007 stated just fewer than 54,000 people called Cayman home.

Those estimates, based on a survey of 1,253 respondents, stated there were 32,367 Caymanians and 21,519 non-Caymanians comprising the local population.

However, available immigration data compiled by the Compass shows that there were more than 29,000 non-Caymanians living on the islands this year and the newspaper’s count admittedly does not include some categories of immigrants.

Here’s what the Compass review of Immigration Department data found:

*There were 20,934 people here on work permits, including temporary work permits, as of 9 July, 2008.

*Another 3,260 people were working without a permit or contract as an operation of the law on that date, awaiting applications for things like permanent residence or appeals of work permit denials.

*Some 1,348 people were working in Cayman on government contracts, which are only required for foreign residents and are considered separately from work permits.

*Chief Secretary George McCarthy provided a report on 20 February which stated there were 2,865 dependents of work permit holders living in Cayman. Dependents are non-working family members who are supported by work permit holders’ earnings.

*Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson told the Legislative Assembly earlier this year that 689 permanent residence applications had been approved here since May 2005.

Those figures add up to 29,096 non-Caymanians.

It is important to point out that immigration statistics for things like work permit holders, their dependents, and especially temporary work permits can change weekly, even daily as people arrive or depart. So any exact figures given at a specific time are a ‘snapshot’ of what exists at that point.

However, it is also worth noting that the numbers compiled by the Compass do not represent a full count of non-Caymanian permanent residents living in Cayman. Also, the Compass has been unable to obtain statistics for the number of people living here on student visas, or those who have been granted political asylum.

Mr. Manderson had also previously said it was his opinion that the figure provided for the dependents of work permit holders was too low. Former Work Permit Board Chairman David Ritch estimated dependent numbers at 6,000 people back in 2006.

There is somewhat less dispute about the total number of Caymanians living here, although not all tallies are in complete agreement. The Compass did not, for the purposes of this story, seek to differentiate between Caymanians who were born on the islands and those who obtained Caymanian status through government processes.

The recent National Assessment of Living Conditions report estimated the entire Caymanian population at just more than 30,000 people, which is comparable to the statistics office number of 32,367.

A recent omnibus survey done by Tower Marketing Group reported that some 56 per cent of Caymanians were not registered to vote. The country’s current voter rolls list about 14,000 eligible voters. So using the Tower numbers, there would be a bit less than 18,000 Caymanians who were not registered to vote, again approaching a total number of 32,000 Caymanians.

Adding the Compass’ estimate for the number of non-Caymanians to the government’s estimate of the Caymanian population leads to a total of just less than 62,000 island residents.