About 22 percent fewer people have been registered for the Cayman Islands government’s Christmas cleanup program this holiday season compared to the 2015 cleanup effort.

Government statistics released Friday state that 547 residents on Grand Cayman and 41 Cayman Brac residents successfully registered for short-term employment, which runs for a maximum of three weeks between Nov. 28 and Dec. 16.

That is 164 fewer people in total than the 752 who signed up for last year’s holiday program.

Jobs provided via the 2016 cleanup effort include various roadside beautification and beach cleanups, as well as cleanup efforts for 30 beach access ways and some duties at the George Town Landfill.

There is some chance that landfill workers with the cleanup program could be taken on as full-time employees next year based on their performance, government officials said.

Employment Minister Tara Rivers said the significant drop in the number of Christmas-time job-seekers is proof that “unemployment figures are certainly moving in the right direction.”

The latest unemployment figures released by government appear to back up Minister Rivers’s statement.

Overall unemployment down

The government reported an overall unemployment rate of 3.9 percent during spring 2016. 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 lower than the 6.2 percent unemployment rate recorded during fall 2015 and significantly lower than the 8.3 percent Caymanian unemployment reported in spring 2015.

Statistics office figures showed an estimated total of 1,111 Caymanians unemployed this spring, compared to 1,200 who were jobless in fall 2015 and 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.”

In terms of the Christmas cleanup program workers, about 45 percent are between 41 and 65 years old and the majority [58 percent] are male.

However, a significant number of younger people signed up for the Christmas work. Applicants between 28 and 40 years old made up nearly 30 percent of those given the temporary jobs.

All workers involved in the temporary jobs program will be paid a week before Christmas.

Costs for the 2016 program were not released, but last year just under $445,000 was spend on the cleanup.

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