Cayman’s population plummets
drop in Cayman’s overall population plus an apparent lag in the processing of
work permits is hurting Cayman’s economy, Premier McKeeva Bush told the
Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
to population estimates and projections from the Cayman Islands government for
2007 through 2013, the Islands’ total population was expected to have peaked in
2008 at roughly 57,000 people. The labour force on the Islands also was expected
to have topped out at 39,000 in 2008.
return to the labour market size recorded in 2008 is…not expected to occur
within the medium-term,” stated a three-year budget forecast given to the UK by
the Cayman Islands government in March.
report noted that downsizing among government agencies and statutory
authorities could also be driving down labour force numbers. Cayman’s
government service makes up about 15 per cent of all the jobs in the three Islands.
The government employs 70 per cent of the population in Cayman Brac, according
to recent estimates.
for foreign workers – shown by the number of work permit holders in Cayman –
shrunk 11.3 per cent in 2009. About 50 per cent of the workers on the Islands
are expatriates, and a drop of more than 3,000 work permits within the past 18
months has driven the population from 57,009 in 2008 to 52,830 in 2009.
Bush told the house that the decline in population would have an effect on
Cayman’s gross domestic product through a reduction in local demand for goods
deficit reduction policy stance for the fiscal year 2010/11 (which starts on 1
July) along with the shrinking population size all combine in pointing to a
continuing recession in the 2010 calendar year,” the three-year budget plan
economy for calendar year 2010 was expected to shrink, with a contraction of
3.1 percent in gross domestic product, following a 5.1 percent GDP drop last
year. After that, the Cayman Islands government has projected a gradual
is premised on a strong rebound for tourism-related services, the start of a
number of new construction projects and a modest recovery of the financial
services sector,” the three-year plan stated.
short-term measure to boost local economic growth that was suggested in the
report included more efficient processing of outstanding work permits.
to the three-year budget plan, there was a backlog of 1,500 work permits for
foreign employees as of 10 March, 2010 in Cayman. Those applications were for
“full” work permits – those lasting 12 months or more.
large number of those permits awaiting approval involve workers who have
already been brought to Cayman on temporary (six-month) work permits and are
simply awaiting the go-ahead on their longer-term working arrangements.
not all the work permits fall into that category.
are likely several hundred new workers which could be brought into the labour
force if this backlog in processing was addressed,” the report stated. “This
would give a boost to the local consumer market and aggregate demand.”
unemployment was anticipated to have peaked in 2009 at 5.5 percent in the
Cayman Islands. Government projections estimate unemployment dropping to 2.9
per cent by 2011.
Work permits in the
Cayman Islands are now being processed partly by the Work Permit Board – an
appointed body of volunteers who review applications from various companies in
need of foreign workers. The Immigration Department also employs three to four
staffers to review work permit applications that are considered
noncontroversial, such as yearly renewals.