The cover story of this month’s Cayman Islands Journal will, we hope, lay to rest that fallacy once and for all. The story’s headline will serve as an appropriate epitaph: “Work permits have no negative impact on Caymanian employment.”
Unlike some who routinely rely on anecdotal evidence to support their narrative of conflict between employed expatriates and unemployed Caymanians, the Journal article is founded on incontrovertible facts.
And here are the facts, which have been operative and discoverable in Cayman for the last 15 years, at minimum: “… the Caymanian unemployment rate is actually lower when there are more people in the country on work permits. Conversely, when work permit numbers drop, Caymanian unemployment increases …”
When work permits go up, Caymanian unemployment goes down.
When work permits go down, Caymanian unemployment goes up.
In other words, it is simply not evidence-based to equate the issuance of a work permit to an expatriate with a lost job opportunity for a Caymanian.
We often find ourselves admiring independent North Side MLA Ezzard Miller for his maverick style of politics, his patent devotion to his district and, most of all, his fearless outspokenness. Many a time has an off-the-cuff remark from Mr. Miller brightened the pages of the Compass on an otherwise “slow news day.”
However, when Mr. Miller or anyone else suggests that the proper public policy position on reducing Caymanian unemployment is to restrict the authorization of work permits, he has no factual foundation or justification to support his specious argument.
As explained in the Journal article (the findings of which are based on the Cayman government’s own figures, the best possible cache of statistics on the topic), there is no demonstrable negative correlation between the number of work permit holders in Cayman and the number of employed Caymanians. There just isn’t.
Actually, a stronger argument can be made for the obverse – that more work permits result in fewer unemployed Caymanians. But we don’t think that’s quite right, either.
What we divine from the data is the lack of a direct link, negative or positive, between the number of work permits and the number of unemployed Caymanians at any given time. Rather, the two series tend to move together because they have a common cause: namely, the prevailing state of the local economy.
Thankfully, as far as the continuing prospects of Cayman’s business environment are concerned, that’s the viewpoint espoused by the majority of Cayman’s leaders, including Premier Alden McLaughlin and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush.
Simply put, the healthier Cayman’s economy, the more job opportunities are available … for everybody – expatriates and Caymanians alike.