Census: Caymanian unemployment 9.8 per cent

Unemployment in the Cayman Islands stood at 6.2 per cent in late 2010, according to a territory-wide census that counted every person in the more than 22,000 households within the Cayman Islands.

When compared with the majority of first-world western economies, that’s quite good; but when you break down the numbers a bit further it gets more complicated.

Of the 17,129 Caymanians in the British Overseas Territory’s labour, force according to the 2010 census, there were 15,453 employed and 1,676 unemployed – creating an effective Caymanian unemployment rate of 9.8 per cent.

Typically, unemployment rates for non-Caymanian workers are quite low because most foreign workers that don’t have jobs are not allowed to stay in the Islands. The rate for non-Caymanian unemployment in late 2010 was 3.1 per cent.

“There were only 36 unemployed non-Caymanians for every 100 unemployed Caymanians,” the census report indicated.

However, the real problem comes with younger workers, those between ages 15 and 34.

Of the 2,280 people considered unemployed by the census – i.e. they did not work at all during the period surveyed – 1,160 of them, more than half, were between the ages of 15 and 34.

The problem is particularly pronounced among the 15 to 24 age group of Caymanians where the unemployment rate was 25 per cent.

Age 15 is the internationally considered standard for the working age, according to the census report. According to population estimates there were 5,633 people between the ages of 15 and 24 living in the Cayman Islands in late 2010.

Subtracting those in school, the labour force included 2,356 people in that age group who were working and 593 who were not – an overall unemployment rate of some 20 per cent. Among non-Caymanians of the 15 to 24 age group, the unemployment rate was about 7 per cent; for Caymanians it was 25 per cent.

Once the 25 to 34 group is reached, unemployment numbers drop off sharply. However, the Census 2010 data show the Caymanian unemployment rate for that age group is still more than 10 per cent. Once age 35 to 44 is reached, Caymanian unemployment numbers drop to around 6.4 per cent – much closer to the overall average.

Unemployment ‘understated’

Opposition party lawmakers have long made the argument that employment figures were underestimated in government reports.

According to figures contained in the government’s Strategic Policy Statement, Cayman Islands unemployment stood at 6.7 per cent for the first half of 2011. That figure was reported after the 2010 census, but appears to have been recorded during a 2009 labour force survey.

Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said in December that he thinks the unemployment figure was closer 18 per cent unemployment for Caymanians. The 2010 census has shown, for the age group 15 to 24, he’s right.

The total unemployment figures estimated by the government Economics and Statistics Office and reported each year in a labour survey include unemployment numbers for everyone working in the Cayman Islands.

For 2009, Caymanian unemployment was estimated at 9.9 per cent. The 9.8 per cent figure contained in the 2010 census was actually slightly lower than the 2009 figure.


  1. These stats seem awfully skewed. Considering that the age group of 15-24 is often an unlikely group to engage in even part-time employment anywhere in the world, due to the fact that these much younger people are in school full-time (and often parents won’t let their 15 or 16 year old work, as school and other activities are the priority…at least good parents do) or older youth (say 18-24 yrs) are engaged in post-secondary education and their time is limited outside of their studies. I think if this group were excluded from the unemployment stats, there would be a more definate and clearer picture of the unemployment rate in Cayman. Or are these numbers included to create a sense of panic on these islands…again…???

  2. …the age group of 15-24 is often an unlikely group to engage in even part-time employment anywhere in the world…

    I was working 20 hours a week from the time I was 14 years old, and kept honor role marks in school too. Good attitude goes a long way and that’s what’s missing in Cayman’s young people today.

    Boats need constant maintenance, and with the numbers of them out there, there’s plenty of work to do. The boats are usually back at the docks too, by the time the young people get out of school.

    If that’s not to a young persons liking there are a dozen or more grocery stores on the island that are constantly unloading containers. A couple of hours per day stocking shelves is not hard, and might help the store to replace an expat.

    Seriously, get on your bicycle and go looking. That’s what I did when I was that age.

  3. OldDiver, I have to agree with you. When I was 12 years old I had a paper route, worked in a grocery store at 14 and McDonald’s after school at 16 all while getting A’s and B’s in school. And this wasn’t because my parents were poor, it was because my father wanted to make sure I learned the value of working hard to get what I wanted. I have to say that it sure felt good when I went and brought those new sneakers with the money I earned myself.

    Sometimes change has to come from within a people.

  4. @ Old Diver…
    I agree with you 100%. I had my first job at 13 working in a daycare centre for 1 hour p/day, helping the little ones get ready to go home. That was 50 p/week! I should have written thatsome young people lack the same ethics of work that we grew up with. The expectations of money to be handed out without earning it is sadley becoming the norm…

Comments are closed.