WASHINGTON, D.C. — If all foreign workers in the Northern Mariana Islands with CNMI-Only Transitional Worker, or CW-1, permits — or 45% of total workers in 2015 — were removed from the NMI labor market, the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s preliminary economic analysis projects a 26% – 62% reduction in the commonwealth’s 2015 gross domestic product, the most recent GDP available, according to its report on the Northern Mariana Islands preliminary observations on the implementation of federal immigration laws released April 27.

In addition, the analysis stated that the demand for foreign workers in the NMI in 2016 exceeded the available number of CW-1 permits — many of which were approved for workers from China and workers in construction occupations. 

By 2019, plans for additional hotels, casinos and other projects estimate needing thousands of new employees. When the CW-1 permit program ends in 2019, GAO’s preliminary analysis of available data shows that the unemployed domestic workforce, estimated at 2,386 in 2016 will be well below the NMI’s expected demand for labor. To meet this demand, NMI employers may need to recruit U.S.-eligible workers, according to the report.

The full report is viewable on www.mbjguam.com under “Data and Reports.”