Results of 2016 HIE survey now out

Posted on Sep 08 2017

Eleven years after the last survey was done in 2005, the results of the 2016 Housing, Income & Expenditure survey on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota are now out, providing a much needed update to the CNMI’s consumer price index.

The Central Statistics Division of the Department of Commerce released the survey results last week, and the results will be used to revise and update the consumer price index to reflect the most current buying patterns of CNMI residents.

Central Statistics Division director Justin Andrew said the survey is not done every year. “Aside from it being expensive, as per the International Labor Organization that developed the framework for the HIES, it is recommended that we do it every five years,” he said.

The 2005 survey became the basis for computing the CPI but the intervening years now require the CPI to be updated.

“We use what’s available. We stand by the numbers we produce. So even if it is old numbers or data and we don’t have any updates to it, that’s the one we have and we will use it,” Andrew said.

In his message attached to the report, Commerce Secretary Mark Rabauliman said the instrument used and almost all the questions asked in both 2005 and 2016 surveys are identical, which allowed for a time series analysis.

Andrew said that doing the HIE survey is highly recommended when there is something happening within an economy, to check whether it is improving or deteriorating quickly “so we can gauge the situation right there.”

According to Andrew, the purpose of the survey was to collect expenditure information for the CPI revision.

The CPI, or consumer price index, reflects the most current buying patterns. “A good example would be the electronic devices that have just shown up in the market after 2005. Those will be considered for the consumer pricing index item basket,” said Andrews.

The HIES also allows the Department of Commerce to gather information on housing and population.

“The survey answers the questions ‘How many houses are there, the percentage of houses that are made of what materials, what percentage of houses have plumbing system, how fast is the internet connection, etc.?”

“It also provides us the characteristics of the household, take a look at how many people reside in the CNMI and we estimate the number of people we have here based on the survey number we collect,” he added.

Andrew said the income part of the survey gave the average household income, average family income, how many people are in income brackets, and poverty rates.

Some of the highlights of the 2016 HIES include:

The survey was conducted randomly among 53,890 CNMI residents: 48,200 on Saipan, 3,056 on Tinian, and about 2,635 on Rota.

The CNMI had somewhat more males than females in 2016. The median age of the CNMI population in 2005 was 29.4 years, which is moderately high for Pacific Islands’ population. The median increased to 33.4, an increase of four years over the past 11 years. This rate is obviously higher, and shows an aging population with fewer babies being born in the Commonwealth, and continued high number of foreign workers.

The sex ratio in the CNMI switched between 2005 and 2016, from more females (because of the garment factories) to more male in 2016 (because of increased construction).

About 1 in 5 CNMI residents in both 2005 and 2016 spoke Chamorro at home. However, the percentage speaking Chamorro decreased during the 11-year period.

According to Andrew, they encourage the public to look and study the data, which is available in the Commerce website:

“Anybody can use the information for anything that they want, information to help government programs, policy making, program decisions, social and health services, public safety, education and businesses,” he said.

Bea Cabrera | Correspondent
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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