Gainful employment among both Caymanian and expatriate workers grew during 2012, according to jobs data released last week by the government.
However, the same data estimated there were nearly 200 more unemployed Caymanians in the fall of 2012 than there were at the same time during 2011. The good news-bad news Labour Force Survey was compiled by the Cayman Islands government’s Economics and Statistics Office and, in addition to the standard unemployment figures, reported a new “underemployed” category.
The “underemployed” were those who worked only part-time and who informed survey takers that they felt they could participate more in the labour force.
The total number of employed individuals in the Cayman Islands for 2012 was estimated at 36,401, higher by 3.2 per cent compared to 2011, which saw 35,267 employed people. Caymanian and non-Caymanian employment rose by 3.3 and 3.2 per cent, respectively. That means while the number of Caymanians who were unemployed rose by about 200 people, the number of employed Caymanians also rose by about 450 people.
The overall labour force, both Caymanians and expatriates, grew by about 1,000 people in 2012, according to the survey.
“I am pleased that the labour market improved last year, and I expect it to make further progress this year towards reducing the overall unemployment rate,” said Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.
Despite the uptick in Caymanian unemployment, the total jobless rate fell just slightly from 6.3 per cent in the fall of 2011 to 6.2 per cent at the same time in 2012.
In 2011, the government estimated there were 2,353 jobless within the Cayman Islands. In 2012, there were an estimated 2,410 people unemployed. Percentage-wise it shows up as a reduction because the overall labour force grew in size.
Breaking that number down by Caymanians and non-Caymanians there were an estimated 1,925 unemployed Caymanians here last year compared to an estimated 1,732 based on statistics office figures for 2011.
That left Caymanian unemployment at 10.5 for last year, compared to 9.8 per cent the year before.
The number of non-Caymanians unemployed in 2012 was estimated at 485. The Economics and Statistics Office estimated that number at 621 during 2011. Typically, unemployment for non-Caymanian workers is quite low because they are not allowed to stay in the Islands without jobs.
The jobless rate for non-Caymanians dropped from 3.1 per cent in 2011 to 2.4 per cent in 2012.
Youth unemployed still showed as a major issue during the fall 2012 Economics and Statistics Office survey.
Of the total 2,410 jobless individuals identified, some 691 – or 28.7 per cent of the total – said they were between the ages of 15 and 24. Of the 691 young jobless workers, 616 said they were Caymanians.
Out of the 1,925 unemployed Caymanians, about 1,450 had a high school degree or lower level of formal education. Only an estimated 231 Caymanians with a university degree were listed as not having a job.
Another concern was the time spent without work. According to the statistics office, of the 1,709 Caymanians who had previously held a job but who were now unemployed, 909 of them – 53 per cent – had been out of work for a year or more.
In addition to the jobless numbers, the Economics and Statistics Office survey estimated that 668 living in the Cayman Islands could be considered ‘underemployed”.
Of that 668 people, 370 were Caymanians and 298 were non-Caymanians.
The largest underemployed workers group was actually non-Caymanians between the ages of 35 and 44. Caymanians between ages 35 and 44 were also high on the underemployed list. Again, the vast majority of those underemployed, both Caymanian and expatriate, reported having a high school education or less.
There was also a vast disparity between men and women with 426 males estimated being underemployed and only 242 women considered underemployed.
Across the various industries in the Cayman Islands, underemployment occurred in construction and manufacturing-related jobs, retail, transportation, hospitality and in education.
The underemployed reported working anywhere between 25 and just 14 hours a week.