Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 21 Nov 2019 12am







    Wednesday, November 20, 2019-2:29:03P.M.






Font Size


Interior: Labor shortage in NMI, Guam persists

THE CNMI “has explored sourcing its labor needs from regional jurisdictions to include Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau,” but “the available labor pool within these jurisdictions is inadequate to offset [the Commonwealth’s] foreign labor loss,” the U.S. Department of the Interior said in a report to the U.S. Congress.

“The increase in economic activity in both the CNMI and Guam has precipitated a labor shortage, which is forecast not to ease anytime soon,” the report added.

To recruit, train and hire U.S. qualified workers, Interior said its Office of Insular Affairs is spending a per-person cost of $3,704, “but despite the longstanding efforts by the Center for Micronesian Empowerment in partnership with federal government, the available labor for the military build-up alone is currently insufficient.”

The U.S. Department of Labor, the report added, has a portfolio of programs better aligned than those of OIA “to address the challenges of growing a U.S.-skilled workforce in the large numbers needed to meet the demands of the CNMI’s growing economy.”

The Interior report discusses the technical assistance provided by the department to the CNMI under the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018, which extended the CW-1 program until Dec. 2029.

The report included a brief history of the CNMI economy, going back to the peak of the islands’ garment industry when its exports totaled $1.1 billion in 1998, and when tourist arrivals reached 727,000 visitors in 1997.

The report stated that the closures of garment factories from 2005 to 2009 “marked the official end to the CNMI’s largest industry and its greatest source of tax revenue.”

The report likewise noted the 107 percent increase in business gross revenue between 2011 and 2016 and the 90 percent increase in visitor arrival during the same period, resulting in the increase of CNMI government revenue from $120.7 in 2012 to $258.1 million in 2019.

To read the entire report, go to