5,682 non-resident workers from 45 different countries in 50 different types of occupations are in Palau according to the latest report released by the Ministry of Human Resources, Culture, Tourism & Development.
Despite the impact the pandemic has had on the economy, the number of non-resident workers has declined slightly compared to FY 2019 where according to Palau-Economic Brief-FY 2021, the number of non-resident workers was at 5,943. The number though is still higher than the total resident labor force which was pegged at 5,549 by the Economic Brief – FY 2021.
Early projections of job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic were over-estimated. Owing to Palau’s CROSS Act and US CARES Act, job losses were mitigated with a national government re-employment program for those who lost their jobs in the private sector to work in the government temporarily as a humanitarian relief effort. Non-resident workers were kept and not many left the country as seen in the numbers.
Of the 5,682 workers, Philippine nationals make up 60% with 3,397 people. Bangladeshi nationals represent the second largest group with 17%, followed by the People’s Republic of China citizens with 12%. There are only 112 Japanese nationals that make up 2% of the non-resident population and Republic of China-Taiwan with 99 workers representing a mere 1.7% of the non-resident worker population.
The bulk of the non-residents’ workers are employed in the construction and related fields followed by domestic helpers, farmers, waitresses, and retail jobs.
Occupation designations in the data provided by the HRCT&D Ministry were not clear with redundant classifications such as category for carpenter-mason and mason or worker-construction and carpenter-general, but in all, non-resident workers employed in construction and its related fields make up the largest number of non-resident workers in Palau.
HRCT&D report also revealed results of the inspection of 3,265 non-resident workers to check for Labor compliance. There were 345 Labor Compliance activities, the largest number, 85, was the canceled applications followed by 79 business closures. Compliance cases include termination, salary dispute, maltreatment, runaway, overstay, and illegal employment. Of the 345, 130 have been closed and 215 are pending.
HRCT&D also reported that of the 297 non-resident workers under the government re-employment program and seeking permanent employment, 280 already have potential employers and only 17 remain seeking employment.
The government this year moved to return to original employers many of the private sector employees who availed of the temporary employment due to reduced hours or job losses as a result of the pandemic.
The projected impact of the pandemic on employment was greatly overestimated, and instead of job loss of 3,100 or 27% of the labor force, the August 2021 Economic Brief for Palau showed only a 7% decline. Non-resident workers’ numbers did not decline as great as expected and they continue to work to help Palau in its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.