Cayman’s overall population has increased despite a 12 percent decline in the number of permanent residents on the islands between fall 2014 and fall 2015.
According to the government Economics and Statistics Office, there were 735 fewer permanent residents in Cayman in late 2015 than at the same time in the previous year.
The number of Caymanians increased correspondingly during the same period by about 790, according to statistics office estimates.
The drop in total permanent residents from 5,923 in fall 2014 to 5,188 in fall 2015 could be at least partly due to residency holders “graduating” to Caymanian status via the current immigration system. The net effect to the territory’s population due to the shift would be nil.
However, Cayman’s overall population rose during the period to an estimated 60,413, up 3.7 percent compared to fall 2014, statistics indicated.
Economics and Statistics Office Director Maria Zingapan said the data collected by her office could not provide certainty on the issue at this point. She said it could be “surmised” that some of the permanent residents listed in the survey may have changed status during the period between the fall 2014 Labor Force Survey and the fall 2015 survey.
The total increase was largely fueled by a 2,100-person jump in the number of non-Caymanian work permit holders and government contract employees between fall 2014 and fall 2015, according to the data.
The Cayman Compass reported earlier this week that government numbers for work permits rose from approximately 20,500 to 22,500 during the same period.
The Economics and Statistics Office numbers in the fall 2015 Labour Force Survey are the result of surveys involving slightly more than 1,400 residents.
The decline in permanent resident numbers comes against the backdrop of a logjam in the review process for that status. According to Immigration Department data, no one has been granted permanent residence status – permission to remain in Cayman for the rest of their lives – since the Immigration Law was amended in October 2013.
Of 638 total residency applications filed since Oct. 26, 2013, a total of 12 have been refused. One application has been withdrawn and another 15 were barred from being heard by law due to various reasons, most because they were filed late.
A total of 610 permanent residence applications remain unheard by the immigration authorities.
As of last week, the Immigration Department reported there were slightly more than 23,000 active work permits and government contracts in the Cayman Islands – the highest number in the territory in nearly six years. Those include the permanent residency applicants living in the country while awaiting word on the outcome of their applications.
Economics and Statistics Office figures indicate the economy kept up with the population increase. Overall unemployment dropped from 5.6 percent in spring 2015 to 4.2 percent in fall 2015.
Caymanian unemployment went from 7.9 percent in fall 2014, to 8.3 percent in spring 2015, to an estimated 6.2 percent in fall 2015.