Cayman’s overall population shrank
in the past two years, despite earlier projections that it would grow during
that time, according to Premier McKeeva Bush.
The drop off needs to be addressed
soon, Mr. Bush said last week in a statement about the 2010 Census preliminary
“This population downtrend has the
potential to negatively impact local economic activity and is…a matter of
serious concern,” he said in a prepared statement released Thursday. “The new
census results accordingly compel government to continue pushing for policies
that will promote sustainable population growth in the Cayman Islands.
“While we do not want a runaway
population spiral, what we do need is sustainable growth that can spur healthy
local economic growth.”
Growth is certainly what Cayman has
seen since the last census in 1999, when the country’s population stood at just
more than 39,000, to late last year when it was counted at 54,878 people.
That’s a 39 per cent increase in 11 years.
But that growth hit a decline after
2008, according to figures from the government’s Economics and Statistics
Office. Cayman’s population hit a peak of about 57,000 in the fall of 2008, and
then dropped to just below 53,000 in the latter half of 2009.
A year later the Census 2010 count
had Cayman growing again to just below 55,000 people.
However, there was evidence earlier
in the decade that statistics office population counts – which were based on
representative sample surveys – actually understated how many people lived
The government’s official estimate
from the Economics and Statistics Office for fall 2008 said just more than
57,000 people called Cayman home. That figure included 31,858 Caymanians and
Available immigration data compiled
by the Compass at the same time showed there were more than 29,000
non-Caymanians living on the islands.
That included some 20,934 people
here on work permits, including temporary work permits, another 3,260 people
who were working without a permit or contract as an operation of the law, some
1,348 people were working in Cayman on government contracts, plus 2,865 dependents
of work permit holders living in Cayman.
The Legislative Assembly was also
told earlier in 2008 that 689 permanent residence applications had been
approved since May 2005.
Those figures add up to 29,096
non-Caymanians, and do not include the full count of permanent resident
non-Caymanians, students or all spouses of non-Caymanians.
According to the newspaper’s count
it is possible more than 62,000 people were residing in Cayman during 2008.
Whatever the true population
number, Mr. Bush said it was clear there had been a recent decline. Also, he
noted growth in the local districts was fairly uneven. For instance, Bodden
Town’s population nearly doubled in the last decade while Cayman Brac and
Little Cayman had grown very little.
“The relatively slow population
growth in the Sister Islands must also be addressed,” Mr. Bush said. “We don’t
want some districts to be left behind…otherwise our progress will not be meaningful.”
Mr. Bush said the more in-depth
census count, due out in October, would help guide his government’s
decision-making in promoting balanced growth across the country.