87 pct of CNMI homes have Internet

Labor force findings show 17 pct adult unemployment rate

The latest Broadband Survey released by the Department of Commerce showed that Internet use in the Commonwealth has increased in the last three years and that the unemployment rate in the CNMI is currently at 17 percent.

According to the 2014 Broadband Survey, the jump of Internet usage was considerable.

“The percentage of persons having Internet at home jumped from about 68 percent in 2011 to about 87 percent in 2014,” the survey said.

The study surveyed 1,542 households, a sample that was said to be large enough to have a fairly low sampling error.

As the survey was also used to assess the current labor force situation, the sample size was about four times as large as the 2011 sample, in order to obtain sufficient households for labor force participation and unemployment.

“Because the CNMI had not had a labor force survey since the 2010 census, [the Central Statistics Division] decided to add additional variables to assess the current labor force situation,” the study said.

Broadband use

The report shows a comprehensive broadband map that covers Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

In summary, the report said “Broadband use is now expected by households in the CNMI. In 2014, more than half the households had broadband, and most of the others would have liked to have it, if it was available, and if it came at a reasonable cost. If household members did not have Internet at home, most found another venue to access the outside world.”

Survey results said about four out of every five households had some kind of computer or 1,247 of the total households in the sample.

“Desktops were most common on Tinian, at 7 of 10 households, compared to about 6 of every 10 households on the other two islands. Desktops were about 3 of every 5 households in this part of the sample, Handhelds were about 1 in 5, and those with no computers were most of the rest,” the survey said.

About four in every five had at least one member who used the Internet and Internet use was extremely frequent in the Commonwealth that year, according to the survey.

“More than half—in fact 58 percent—of all the households that had at least one person using the Internet (1,146 of the 1,542 total households in the sample) used the Internet “several times a day.” About 3 in 10 used the Internet either once a day or 3 to 5 times a week. Only about 1 in 10 households used the internet less frequently,” the survey said.

Labor force: 17 pct unemployed

With regards to the labor force, the survey said about 17 percent of the adults were unemployed.

“About 72 percent of the adult population—those 16 years and over—were in the labor force, including 77 percent of the males and 67 percent of the females,” the survey said.

“For the youngest potential workers, those 15 to 29 years old, about half were in the labor force, but half were not in the labor force (many of them still in school),” it added.

The survey said that “the question used to obtain the labor force differed from the usual question in obtaining labor force participation and unemployment; nonetheless, the rates seem reasonable.”

Overall, the survey noted that the labor force in the Commonwealth that year “was not particularly good, particularly for those who wanted to work but could not find jobs.”

“An unemployment rate of 17 percent is very high by United States standards although not by Third World standards; about 1 in every 6 potential workers could not find jobs. And, more than 1 in 4 of all adults were not working, some of them presumably having given up looking,” the survey said.

This project was made possible through funding assistance from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration as part of the State Broadband Initiative and work was performed by staff hired and supervised by CSD with assistance from Dr. Michael J. Levin of East West Center Pacific Islands Development Program.

“This report provides data that can be used by our local government and private investors to leverage resources that can bring CNMI a step closer to fulfilling President Obama’s Broadband Initiative goals by providing affordable high speed broadband to many of our island residents. I am excited about the tremendous economic benefits that future technology and innovations can bring to our islands,” Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said.

Secretary of Commerce Mr. Mark O. Rabauliman extended his gratitude to all those who responded and provided the information for this report as well as his team at the Central Statistics Division and the Resident Commerce staff on Rota and Tinian and the temporary hired survey staff.

“Their information is crucial as we find ways to improve our quality of life and this report is, as well as many other reports that my office publishes, meant for that purpose,” Rabauliman said.

The full report can be viewed online at the Commerce website:, under Central Statistics Division’s Other Reports section.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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