We have heard many arguments recently, some from
legislators, saying that expatriate workers should be sent away so that
unemployed Caymanians can take their jobs.
This concept is fair enough, assuming a Caymanian is
qualified and willing to take the job.
But even doing this has consequences.
Cayman’s population has already declined by at least 5,000
people and the majority of those who have departed were expatriates renting
accommodations. Some believe the population decline has actually been much
higher, and that is something that will be revealed when the census results are
Regardless, as a result of the departures in combination
with an oversupply of accommodations, rental rates have plummeted and some
landlords are even having trouble renting apartments at deeply discounted
The large majority of these landlords are Caymanians, who
have traditionally used rental properties as a way of investing and
supplementing their income. The current rental rate decrease is making it
difficult for the owners of investment properties to cover expenses such as
mortgage payments and property insurance. Unless the population decline
reverses, some of these landlords will face foreclosure while others will face
the risk of being uninsured during hurricane season.
But landlords aren’t the only Caymanians feeling the
population decline pinch. Most Caymanian business owners have less
revenue and profits as a result of fewer residents and as a result, they must
lay off staff – including Caymanians.
Although sending expatriates away might seem like the easy
fix to Caymanian unemployment to some, that course of action could actually
make matters worse for other hard-working Caymanians.
While it is important for the government to try and find
work for the unemployed Caymanians who wish to work, it is equally important
for the government to try and reverse the declining population trend.
Simply kicking expats off the island is not the answer to Cayman’s problems and
public calls for such actions – and the tacit or implicit approval of those
calls by some politicians – is not helping matters.