There are nearly 8,000 more people living in the Cayman Islands than there were five years ago, according to government labor statistics released last week.

Cayman’s total resident population, estimated for fall 2017 at 63,415, is the islands’ highest in recorded history.

However, the small three-island chain has been consecutively setting new record-high populations every year since 2014, according to the Economics and Statistics Office Labour Force Survey.

In 2013, the territory’s resident population was measured at 55,691 by the same survey. The fall 2017 figure reported last week represents a 13.8 percent population increase in just five years.

Before 2013, during the fallout years from the international financial crisis, Cayman’s population actually declined slightly and then hovered between about 55,000 and 56,000 residents during 2009-2012.

That stagnant period has ended and the figures further show that there was a one-year 3.3 percent growth in the local population between 2016 and 2017, made up almost entirely of Caymanians.

According to labor force data for fall 2016, there were 34,113 Caymanians living here. One year later, that number had grown to 35,878 – a 5 percent increase in the Caymanian population in 12 months.

By comparison, the non-Caymanian population, including permanent residents and work permit holders, grew by just 1 percent – fewer than 300 people – during the same period.

Government statistics for the last three years show Cayman is averaging just more than 670 live births per year, with those figures including children born here to non-Caymanians.

Even assuming the majority of those children are born to Caymanian parents, it is likely that the growth of the Caymanian population during 2017 – by more than 1,700 people – was not entirely due to births.

Caymanian status

According to figures presented to the Legislative Assembly in November, the awarding of Caymanian status to non-Caymanian residents does not seem to make up the numbers for the large increase in the local population either, at least not on its own.

Based on the figures Premier Alden McLaughlin presented, the islands have averaged about 412 status grants per year since 2009.

Roughly 194 of those grants each year were given to people who have resided in the islands for at least 15 consecutive years and applied for permanent residence and then naturalization as a British Overseas Territories citizen. These are typically individuals with no family connections to the islands (although some may have those via parents, grandparents or children) who apply for Caymanian rights based on long tenure in the islands.

Another 217 people each year received the right to be Caymanian through marriage to a Caymanian. Those individuals typically must apply for their status after seven years of marriage.

On average since 2009, one person per year has received a grant of Caymanian status mandated by the Cabinet of the ruling government administration.

The figures presented to the Legislative Assembly were given as a result of a parliamentary question asked by Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders. Mr. Saunders said he was researching grants of status and awards of permanent residence for information he would later use to update the old “Vision 2008” strategic plan, which would look ahead to the next 20 years.

“One of the things I’m mindful of is that we’re looking at the public school population now, we’re looking at a large number of children of Caymanian status holders or PR-holders who will be entitled to receive public school education in the next five years,” he said.