Employment and total population in the Cayman Islands hit record highs in 2016, with 40,411 people working and 61,361 people residing here at year’s end, according to figures from the Economics and Statistics Office’s labor force surveys and its 2016 annual economic report.
The new all-time high in population marks roughly 1.6 percent growth over 2015, and it is the third straight year that figure has grown, the ESO statistics show. The population had been hovering around 55,000 before jumping by nearly 3,000 from 2013 to 2014.
The expansion in employment outpaced that of population, increasing by about 3.3 percent from 2015, according to the report. However, the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.2 percent, due to growth in the labor force that matched the employment increase.
While the total population grew, the number of Caymanians fell by 124, from 34,237 in 2015 to 34,113 last year.
The employment of non-Caymanians grew faster than that of Caymanians, increasing by 3.9 percent in the former group, compared to 1.8 percent in the latter. Employment among permanent residents grew by 7.1 percent, the report states.
The ESO cited the expanding population as a driver behind the territory’s 2.7-percent growth in gross domestic product, which has increased for five-straight years. Specifically, a growing population contributed to a “robust economic performance” in Cayman’s electricity and water supply, other services and transport, and storage and communication sectors, which increased by 5.6 percent, 2.3 percent, and 1.5 percent respectively, according to the economic report.
However, the growing number of people living here has put upward pressure on prices, the report states.
“Notwithstanding, the declines in energy prices remained sufficient to outweigh upward pressures on prices caused by an expansion in employment levels and a larger population,” the report states, noting that the territory experienced deflation of about 0.6 percent.
Deflation, which also occurred at a 2.3-percent rate in 2015, is projected to reverse this year. According to the report, the territory is projected to see a 1.8-percent inflation rate this year and 2.3 percent next year, due to recovery in global energy prices and rising demand for housing. The first-quarter inflation rate was 1.7 percent, according to the ESO’s first-quarter consumer price index.
The ESO also projects the economy to grow 2.3 percent this year and 2.6 percent next year – “conditional on the timing of some investment projects, upbeat growth in tourism and stable demand for financial services.”