The Cayman Islands government reported an overall unemployment rate of 3.9 percent during the spring, according to figures released Wednesday by the government Economics and Statistics Office.
That rate fell from 5.6 percent overall unemployment in spring 2015 and a 4.2 percent unemployment rate in fall 2015. A total of just more than 1,600 people, both Caymanian and non-Caymanian, were out of work as of spring 2016.
For Caymanians, the reported unemployment rate during spring 2016 was 5.6 percent, a drop from the 6.2 percent unemployment rate recorded during fall 2015 and a significant drop from the 8.3 percent Caymanian unemployment reported in spring 2015.
Statistics office figures showed there were an estimated total of 1,111 Caymanians unemployed this spring, compared to 1,200 who were jobless in fall 2015 and the 1,562 listed as unemployed in fall 2014.
“The 3.9 percent total unemployment rate is the lowest since 2007,” Finance Minister Marco Archer said. “This is a significant achievement, considering that in 2012, the unemployment rate for Caymanians was 10.5 percent.”
The sharp drop in unemployment came against the backdrop of the number of work permits issued for foreign workers in the territory increasing. The latest work permit figures examined by the Cayman Compass in July 2016 showed more than 24,000 people held work permits.
In the fall of 2014, when Caymanian unemployment stood at 7.9 percent, the Immigration Department reported about 20,500 people on work permits and government contracts.
For non-Caymanian permanent residents, the numbers were less positive. The government reported an unemployment rate among permanent residents of 7.5 percent for spring 2016. In fall 2015, that number stood at 6.6 percent. An estimated 322 permanent residents were jobless as of this spring, the government reported.
Aside from permanent residents, the number of unemployed work permit holders was very low (about one percent). Typically, non-Caymanian work permit holders cannot stay in the territory without a job.
Unemployment among younger workers remains problem for the British Overseas Territory, with nearly 10 percent unemployment reported for residents between 15 and 24 years old. The unemployment rate among 25-34 year olds was around 6 percent during the spring.
A surprising number of post-high school educated residents were also left jobless. According to the survey, more than 600 people with post secondary or university education were looking for work as of spring 2016.
“Approximately two in every five unemployed persons had post-secondary or higher level education,” the Economics and Statistics Office reported. “Among unemployed Caymanians, 29.2 percent of them had post-secondary education or higher.”
In addition to the roughly 1,600 people unemployed, government estimates stated some 750 people were “underemployed” – meaning they wished to work full time, but were in part-time employment because it was all they could find. About 500 people in the underemployed category were Caymanians.
The statistics office put the total number of people working in the Cayman Islands during spring 2016 at 40,213, the highest number ever recorded in the surveys.
The total available labor force, when counting the unemployed, was estimated at 41,825.
Of the working population, about 46 percent were Caymanians and 54 percent were non-Caymanian (including 9.8 percent permanent residents). Men and women were participating in the workforce just about equally, according to the survey.
The total population figure for the Cayman Islands was put at 61,259 for spring 2016, also the highest ever recorded in the territory.