The number of unemployed Caymanians increased by 558 to 1,759, resulting in an unemployment rate of 8.3% in the second half of last year.
The overall unemployment rate, including expatriate workers, at the same time reached 5.2%, according to the fall Labour Force Survey by the Economics and Statistics Office.
The figures are based on estimates, which put Cayman’s total labour force at 43,922 workers. This is 10.5% lower than in the fall of 2019 and follows an exodus of foreign workers in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The non-Cayman labour force fell by 16.6% compared to 2019 and the labour force of permanent residents dropped by 27.3%.
As a result, the non-Caymanian population has declined by 13.6% to 22,105 since December 2019, the survey estimates.
Cayman’s estimated total population was 5.9% lower, at 65,786, in December 2020.
While the ESO believes that 2,279 people were unemployed late last year, data from Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman in January 2020 showed that fewer than 1,000 were registered as unemployed with the department and actively seeking jobs.
However, together with the unemployment data, this has to be considered in the context of nearly 2,900 people receiving a government tourism stipend designed for workers who have lost income due to the border closure.
In its ‘Pre-Election Economic and Financial Update’, government expects the demand for labour to increase this year, particularly in response to planned construction projects.
“However, the tourism industry’s continued closure will result in further restructuring in the local labour market as businesses are forced to recalibrate their business models,” the document said.
“Over the medium-term, new employment is expected from the Islands’ hotel industry as the sector begins to recover in the latter stage of the forecast window (2022 – 2023) and within the context of the added capacity created by current construction projects.”
Given this projected rise in the labour force and employment, government forecasts an unemployment rate of 4.8% of the labour force in 2021, followed by a gradual improvement to 4.5% in 2022 and 3.7% in 2023.