Cayman’s overall unemployment rate fell from 5.6 percent in spring 2015 to 4.2 percent in fall 2015, the government Office of Economics and Statistics reported Tuesday.
The drop in the jobless rate was solely due to a decrease in unemployment numbers among Caymanians.
The ESO statistics revealed that just more than 1,200 Caymanians were jobless in fall 2015, compared to 1,562 Caymanians without employment in fall 2014. The unemployment rate for Caymanian workers stood at 6.2 percent in fall 2015, the lowest it has been since the global financial crisis of 2009-2010.
Conversely, the number of unemployed permanent residents rose during the same period. There were 129 (2.8 percent) permanent residents jobless in fall 2014, compared to 283 (6.6 percent) in fall 2015.
The unemployment rate among non-Caymanian workers also rose slightly, from 0.9 percent to 1.4 percent during the same period. Typically, the unemployment rate for work permit holders is quite low because they are not allowed to stay on island without a job.
“The continued decline in the Caymanian unemployment rate from 9.4 percent in 2013 to 6.2 percent in 2015, is the outcome of deliberate economic policies and strategies bearing fruit,” Finance Minister Marco Archer said. “This was achieved through cooperation and hard work between the business community, the public sector and the wider society.
“I recognize that achieving full employment for Caymanians in the medium term may not be easy, but it is also not impossible and requires additional training, a positive attitude and a willingness to offer employment opportunities.”
The 4.2 percent overall jobless rate was also lauded by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce this week.
“If this was the U.S., [the statistics] would be taken as full employment,” Chamber President Paul Pearson said.
The number of underemployed workers in the islands – those who are working part-time, but not considered to be fully employed at 37.5 hours per week – stayed about the same between fall 2014 and fall 2015.
What did increase significantly, according to the statistics office survey, was Cayman’s overall population.
Estimates by the ESO noted the total population in the three islands rose to 60,413 by fall 2015, compared to an estimated population of 58,238 in fall 2014.
The 60,000-plus figure represents the highest total population the Cayman Islands has ever seen.
Among the employed, non-Caymanian workers and permanent residents still outnumbered Caymanian workers. According to the figures, Caymanians made up 47 percent of the employed population, while non-Caymanians totaled about 53 percent of those working.
Of those considered to be among the working age population, age 15 and over, Caymanians made up 52.5 percent. Permanent residents and non-Caymanian work permit holders made up 47.5 percent, statistics show.
The sharp decrease in overall Caymanian unemployment comes against the backdrop of a significant increase in the number of work permits held in the islands.
In fall 2014, when the Caymanian unemployment rate was at 7.9 percent, the Immigration Department reported about 20,500 active work permits and government contracts.
In fall 2015, with the Caymanian unemployment rate at 6.2 percent, the corresponding number of work permits was nearing 22,500. This month, the total number of work permits and government contracts held in the islands was said by immigration officials to be more than 23,000.
Over the past five years, work permit numbers have seen a steady increase in Cayman, from a low of about 18,500 in the 2011-2012 era to last week’s tally of more than 23,000.