CNMI Labor Secretary Vicky I. Benavente, left, speaks as Labor Administrative Hearing Officer Jackie Nicholas looks on during a meeting with the House Committee of Federal and Foreign Affairs in the House chamber on Wednesday.

SAIPAN (MARIANAS VARIETY) — The economic impact of Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected 3,499 employees in the private sector, based on the business activity report that CNMI Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente shared with lawmakers on Wednesday.

Benavente and other CNMI Labor officials attended a meeting conducted by the House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs chaired by Rep. Vicente Camacho.

The committee asked CNMI Labor to provide an update on the employment situation in the Commonwealth amid the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Benavente shared with the committee a slide presentation of, among other things, the current trends in employment in the CNMI, and the status of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

She said that from February to November 2020, the CNMI Labor received reports from 128 business establishments.

She also said that in April 2020, for example, 4,447 employees either lost their jobs or were partially unemployed.

CNMI DOL’s latest data showed that in January 2021, 3,499 workers were furloughed/laid off or had their work hours reduced. Of these employees, 1,313 were foreign workers and 2,186 were U.S. workers.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a decline in the number of workers affected by the pandemic which, the report said, “may be attributed to business reopening.”

Benavente also informed the lawmakers that the average number of JVA postings each year from calendar years 2016 to 2020 was 8,538. In 2020 however, there were 5,819 JVA postings only — a 32% decrease.

She said there was an average of 35,055 job openings each year from 2016 to 2020. In 2020 however, there were 14,660 job openings only — a 58% decrease.

The occupation groups in the CNMI DOL data included construction, installation, maintenance and repair, building, grounds cleaning, food preparation and servicing-related, personal care and service occupations…. PACNEWS

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