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Local News 01 Aug, 2022 Follow News

Chris Saunders

As Cayman emerges from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the various sectors of the economy start rebooting, a debate is being rekindled about trends in the labour market.

According to the just-published 2021 Census of Population and Housing Report, the number of persons in the working-age population was recorded at 57,360, of which the labour force was 47,120.

Of that, total employment was registered at 44,441 with the unemployed reaching 2,679. Thus, it said, the overall unemployment rate was 5.7 per cent.

It also shows that “although the Caymanian working-age population was higher, the labour force count was lower at 21,298 or 45.2 per cent of the total labour force, than non-Caymanians, which totaled 25,823 or 54.8 per cent.”

Therefore, it noted, more non-Caymanians were working or seeking work and were available for work during the census reference week. A higher proportion of working-age Caymanians would be in school vis-à-vis looking for work.

The Census report said the resulting labour force participation rate for Caymanians was 73.2 per cent compared to 91.4 per cent for non-Caymanians.

It also details that employment among Caymanians totaled 19,494 or 43.9 er cent of the total, while non-Caymanians were counted at 24,947 or 56.1 per cent.

“The status ratio indicates that there are approximately 128 employed non-Caymanians for every 100 Caymanians employed. The unemployed Caymanians were counted at 1,803, resulting in an unemployment rate of 8.5 per cent, while the unemployed non-Caymanian labour force was 876 resulting in an unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent. That is, there were 48.6 unemployed Non-Caymanians for every 100 unemployed Caymanians,” it explained.

The comprehensive report further noted that the Caymanian working-age population was recorded at 29,108 or 50.7 per cent of the country’s total working-age population, while Non-Caymanians totaled 28,252 or 49.3 per cent. The status ratio indicates almost 97.1 Non-Caymanians in the working-age population for every 100 Caymanians.

On a wider scale, the Census report revealed that the resulting labour force participation rate (ratio of the labour force to the total working-age population) was 82.1 per cent.


In 2021, the top five employment industries were Construction, with 16.8 per cent non-Caymanians and 11 per cent Caymanians. Wholesale and retail registered 12.1 per cent Caymanian employees in that sector and 11 per cent of non-nationals.

Professional, scientific and technical activities (accounting, legal, engineering, and other business services) were the third largest industry is the largest employer of Caymanians (12.1%) and 9.2 per cent non-Caymanians.

The financial services sector including insurance has 12.4 per cent Caymanian employment and 4.9 per cent of non-Caymanians.

Public administration accounted for 12.3 per cent of all Caymanian employment and 2.8 percent of Non-Caymanian employment resulting in a status ratio of approximately 29.3 Non-Caymanians for every 100 Caymanians.


The top five occupations accounted for 75.9 percent of total employment, with four of the top five occupational classes dominated by non-Caymanians. These are top professionals, service and sales, elementary occupations and craft and related workers.

The professional’s category saw the highest rate of Caymanians employed at 16.9 per cent and non-Caymanians at 19.5 per cent.

Service and sales workers accounted for the largest share of all non-Caymanian occupations at 21.4 per cent and the fifth-largest share of Caymanian occupations at 12.7 per cent.

Craft and related workers recorded the fourth-largest occupational class for non-Caymanians with 17.7% but the sixth lowest among Caymanians at 9.5 per cent.

Elementary occupations ranked fourth. This class included cleaners, domestic helpers, construction labourers, agriculture and fishery labourers. It ranked third for non-Caymanians with 18.6 per cent and had 6.4 per cent of Caymanians in its workforce.

Technicians and associate professionals ranked fifth. Status-wise, this occupational class employed 18.5 per cent Caymanians and 8.1 per cent non-Caymanians.


The 2021 Census Report has also shown that Cayman had average annual employment earnings of $49,611, while the median earnings was $35,994 per year.

There were 5,611 persons in the earnings band $43,200 - $57,599, which included the annual average earnings.

At least 53.5 per cent of the employed labour force were in earnings brackets lower than the “average earnings bracket”, while 29 per cent are in the higher brackets.

The highest percentage among the employed (26.2%) had earnings within the second-lowest earnings bracket ($14,400 to $28,799).

The report also says there are more non-Caymanian employees than Caymanians in the lowest income brackets with approximately 206.8, 264.6 and 115.9 non-Caymanians for every 100 Caymanians in the lowest three brackets.

However, it notes that “there are relatively more Caymanians in the higher income brackets, particularly in the $43,200 - $57,599 where there are close to 70.7 Non-Caymanians for every 100 Caymanians.”


In a foreword, in the 2021 Census Report, Hon. Deputy Premier and Minister for Labor and Finance, Chris Saunders, wrote: “The 2021 Census data serves as a critical forward-planning tool. It allows the country to benchmark our performance as a society and measure how we meet the aspirations of residents.”

In response to questions about the concerns of labour shortages and trends in the labour market as Cayman eases out of the crippling slowdown caused by the pandemic, Mr. Saunders said the country was experiencing the same challenges that other - and even larger economies - now have to cope with.

“It is a challenge not just to Cayman. Our goal is to get as many of our people trained, developed and moved into the workforce, so the number is trending in the right direction, but we also have to recognise that the tourism industry is not truly back.”

The Labour and Finance minister also emphasised: “Being employed is one thing but when you look at the industries and professions that are paying the most, that’s where you want to encourage people to get to.”

Contextualising the issue of Caymanians in the workforce, Mr. Saunders pointed out: “It is a situation where when you look at industry and recognise that in the top five industries, despite Caymanians being in the minority in the private sector, it’s still with a majority of Caymanians in those sectors.”

He said a key question for the government is getting more Caymanians into the top-paying jobs.

“So, then the question is, how many more Caymanians can we get into those different sectors, that’s where we want to go. It’s not just a matter of finding people jobs but also finding people quality jobs that they can live the quality of life that they need.”

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