More than 2,100 people employed here on work permits have
left the Islands since mid-March, an examination of Immigration Department
records by the Caymanian Compass has revealed.
The number of foreign nationals working in the Cayman
Islands began falling steadily beginning in late 2008 and has continued through to the present day.
However, a trend that
has not been observed since this year has appeared to cement itself over the past
six months – that of permanent positions being lost.
Immigration records obtained under a Freedom of Information request, the number
of new work permit grants in Cayman has fallen by 1,036 grants between
mid-March and mid-September. New permit grants represent the total number of
new full-year work permits given to foreign nationals that are active at the
time the count is taken.
Similarly, the number
of work permit renewals active in Cayman as of 17 September had fallen by 825
when compared to mid-March. Renewals are given to foreign nationals that have
already worked at least one full year in Cayman.
The drop in these two
types of permit categories, generally considered to be for permanent jobs as
opposed to temporary permits or contracts, has only been noticed since the
beginning of this year.
In 2009, work permit
numbers began dropping at a significant rate. But those decreases were mainly
seen in temporary permits as well as from individuals who were working as an
operation of law – meaning they were awaiting the outcome of permanent
residence applications or appeals where a work permit had been refused.
Between mid-March and
mid-September 2010 the total number of work permits, including government
contracts, held by foreign nationals in Cayman dropped from 23,105 to 20,958 a
decrease of 2,147 or just more than 9 per cent in six months.
As of 31 December,
2008, the total number of work permits held by foreign nationals in the Cayman
Islands was 26,517 according to immigration records.
That means work
permits and government contracts issued by the Cayman Islands government have
fallen by more than 5,500 in less than two years.
In fact, immigration
records dating by to the mid-’90s show the last time work permit numbers
dropped below 21,000 at the end of any given year was in 1998.
Labour force surveys
completed by the government’s Economics and Statistics Office show that the
drop in expatriate employment here over the past two years has not led to more
jobs for locals – quite the opposite.
In 2008 labour
reports, the statistics office noted that Caymanian unemployment was 6.6 per
cent. Toward the end of 2009, that local unemployment figure had increased to
9.8 per cent.
It is a trend not
lost on Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush, who recently blamed the decline in
the local economy partly on the sharp drop in the number of people spending
money in the Islands.
“It would be ideal if
we had all the money in the world,” Mr. Bush told members of the Legislative
Assembly earlier this month. “But 31,000 Caymanians cannot sustain this economy
and cannot sustain the way of life that we have. We are all so interdependent
on each other.”
reiterated at last week’s town hall meeting in George Town that to have a
robust local economy, there must be money in circulation.
“It takes people to
create demand for goods,” Mr. Bush said.
Civil service bottoms
Sharp declines in the
number of government workers in Cayman that began to be seen in late 2008 and
continued through 2009 appear to have levelled off, according to immigration
Overall, the number
of workers here on government contracts dropped from 1,224 in mid-March to
1,161 in mid-September.
records from July showed that civil service contracts actually increased
slightly over the past two months by about 18 positions.
of those contracts are not necessarily for foreigners. Civil servants age 60
and over who are still working for government are also required to obtain
contracts if they continue to work past the