The number of work permits held by non-Caymanians rose in July to their highest level since before the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, data produced by the Immigration Department revealed.
As of July 6, there were 24,077 work permits held in the Cayman Islands by individuals of more than 120 nationalities. Those figures include all of the non-Caymanian workers in the territory who hold government contracts, as well as those who are given permission to continue working as they await a decision on permanent residence applications.
The figures represent a 4 percent increase in permitted workers since the Cayman Compass last measured work permits, in February. At that time, there were just more than 23,000 work permit and government contract holders in the Cayman Islands.
The numbers reportedly increased in July, typically when businesses are starting to scale down for the tourism “low season,” as opposed to February, which is the peak of the tourism season in Cayman.
The figures for each month represent a snapshot of the current situation in Cayman, and may fluctuate to some extent monthly or even weekly as workers come and go.
However, work permit numbers measured over the last several years have shown a clear, steady increase since 2010.
According to data compiled by the Compass, work permits and government contracts increased from a low of about 18,500 in fall 2010 to about 20,360 in July 2014. The numbers increased again in January 2015 to a total of 21,400 and then again to 22,232 in July 2015.
As of February 2016, there were 23,097 permits and contracts held by non-Caymanians working in the islands, which was again eclipsed by last month’s figure, stated at 24,077.
The figures suggest an 18 percent increase in work permits in Cayman in the past two years.
The last time the number of work permits and government contracts held in Cayman was measured above the 24,000 mark by the newspaper was in mid-2009, when the Immigration Department reported 24,594 permits. That is still far from the number of work permits and contracts held by non-Caymanians in November 2008: 26,659.
The vast majority of the work permit holders, about 17,500, are full-time, one-year or multiyear permit holders who have either received their first working contract or have renewed their permit after finishing their initial work permit.
Another roughly 4,300 people – as of July – had temporary work permit contracts, meaning either three-month, six-month or nine-month permissions. Those permits are often used for short-term jobs or seasonal permits for the tourism industry.
A total of 906 non-Caymanians held government contracts as of July 6, according to the report.
Another 728 people had been granted “permission to continue working.” Those are mostly individuals who are awaiting decisions by the Immigration Department or boards on applications to remain in Cayman for the rest of their lives. None of those applications has been decided upon since last year.
The special economic zone at Cayman Enterprise City now employs more than 300 people on work permits, according to the immigration data.
The five most populous immigrant worker nationalities in the Cayman Islands have not changed in the past decade. Jamaicans held nearly 10,000 work permits as of last month. They were followed by Filipinos (3,066 permits), Britons (1,957), Americans (1,388) and Canadians (1,233).