Editorial for January 19: Unemployment stats lacking

Employment Minister Rolston Anglin recently said unemployment in the Cayman Islands stands at about 10 per cent.
That’s a bit high compared to the United Kingdom where unemployment stands near 8 per cent and the United States where the number is just above 9 per cent.
But we have to wonder if that is an accurate comparison.
The numbers from the United States were gleaned from statistics produced in December.
That UK stats came from numbers collected in August.
We don’t know where all the numbers from the Cayman Islands come from. Minister Rolston Anglin quotes that 2,417 people registered with the Department of Employment Relations, but only 977 of those registered were technically unemployed. So what is the status of the remaining 1,440 people?
We also don’t know if the number refers to overall unemployment or just Caymanians out of work. That’s important to know because most expatriates who aren’t working in the Cayman Islands don’t get to stay here. If the total unemployment – Caymanians and expats – is at 10 per cent, then we’re in trouble.
According to the Economics and Statistics Office, total unemployment in Cayman toward the end of 2009 stood at about 6 per cent. That would mean that our economy is – or getting close to – dire straits. Unemployment creates a vicious circle; if people aren’t working they can’t make money, which means they can’t make purchases, leaving business owners without income to pay employees – and it goes on and on.
The Cayman Islands Government must get a firm hold of the unemployment issue and do something about it through a reduction in fees charged to employers and adopting immigration rules and regulations that are business friendly.
And we have to mention education. Programmes like Passport, which teaches school leavers how to land and keep a job, are important. We also need to ensure students learn these skills early on and work with the private sector to determine what skill sets should be taught.