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Cook Islands maintains high levels of employment

Wednesday 22 February 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Business, Local, National

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Cook Islands maintains high levels of employment
The average annual income of all those 15 years and older was $19,249 (males $20,209 and females $18,348). 23022218

The median income for people in Rarotonga is about $18,000, while the island continues to have high employment rates.

The results for Cook Islands Census 2021 show that nearly 10 per cent of the population had no income, while 9.4 per cent had an income of more than $40,000 per annum. The median income in Rarotonga was calculated to be $18,000 and the Pa Enua (outer islands) median income was at $11,000 a notably large increase when compared to the 2016 census.

“Total income was estimated around NZD 216million per annum, roughly translating to a per capita income of $14,400 for every man, woman and child,” the Census says. 

“The average annual income of all those 15 years and older was $19,249 (males $20,209 and females $18,348). Income levels in Rarotonga nearly more than double that in the Outer Islands. Household income was estimated to be $46,135 on an annual basis.”

The Census also reveals the employment to population ratio (EPR) showing the number of people employed as a percentage of the total working age group was 68.1 per cent, 72.2 males and 64.2 for females. 

“The working age population in the Cook Islands are those 15 years old and over since there is no minimum age at which people can legally work,” it says. 

Of those in employment, 83.4 per cent were paid employees, 15.1 per cent were either a self-employed or an employer and 1.6 per cent were working in a family business without pay.

The Public Administration sector was the largest employing industry in 2021 with 17.8 per cent closely followed by Wholesale and Retail Trade with 17.5 per cent. 

Although employment in the agriculture and fishing employing sector took a downfall in 2021, subsistence farming and fishing, (those not in employment) increased. 

In 2016 the restaurant and accommodation sector were the largest employment sector, employing 20.9 per cent of all employees but fell by 15 per cent in 2021. This was due to border lockdown when the country recorded minimal or no tourists at all. Sectors related to tourism, such as transport, arts and recreation also took a hit during this period.

Meanwhile, according to the international definition of unemployment, only those people who were not in employment and indicated that they were available for work and were actively seeking for work would be classified as unemployed. 

People who wanted a job but have given up on their quest to find one are not included in the unemployment category. 

In Rarotonga, there were 95 people categorized as unemployed; 45 males and 50 females. This translates into an overall unemployment rate of 1.2 per cent. Unemployment is slightly higher in the Southern Group at 1.6 per cent than in Rarotonga and the rest of the outer islands. 

Over 50 per cent of the unemployed population are between 15 and 30 years and are basically doing home duties.