CNMI Delegate Cites U.S. Citizen Worker Decline As Issue


In Regional News – CNMI Congressman – Gregorio Kilili Sablan is voicing his concerns over the U.S. Citizen worker decline of the Commonwealth in recent years.

PNC’s Don Sulat has the report on this story…

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Citing the Government Accountability office biannual report on workforce trends – Delegate Kilili Sablan reports that the number of U.S. citizens, nationals, and Freely Associated Citizen’s working within the Marianas has declined.

According to Kilili’s website – he states quote, “There were 13,662 of these ‘U.S. workers’ in 2016. That same group shrank to 12,106 in 2020.”

The GAO report, according to Kilili, was mandated by the U.S. workforce Act and U.S. Public Law 115-218 to track if the Law’s Goal, which is “To incentivize the hiring of United States workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and for other purposes” had been met.

The study, reports that the NMI’s workforce changed since the year 2000. Adding that the number of foreign workers fell 73% from the year 2001 to 2020. Although the ratio of US citizens to non-citizen workers was around 50% from 2016 to 18, according to Kilili, the percentage of U.S. workers increased to 56% in 2019 and increased again to 59% in 2020.

Another goal of PL 115-218 – is to “increase the percentage of United States workers…in the total workforce of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, while maintaining the minimum number of workers who are not United States workers to meet the changing demands of the Northern Mariana Islands’ economy.”

Essentially, to increase the percentage of US citizens within the NMI, while still maintaining the minimum number of non-US citizen workers, which in the NMI are often referred to as Contractor or CW workers, which is similar to H-2B workers here in Guam.

To conclude, according to the Congressman, although the percentages show an increase in US citizen workers, that is not the whole story. Kilili states quote, “Over the period 2016 through 2020, that percentage did go up, from 47 percent to 51 percent, because, even though the number of U.S. workers decreased in that period, the total workforce shrank even faster. “