The 28.6-percent increase in the CNMI’s gross domestic product in fiscal year 2016 reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis will translate to a greater demand for labor, according to Latte Training Academy director Arielle Buyum.
As the islands’ economy grows, skills training would continue to thrive, she said.
“This also means that there is a higher demand for a trained and available labor force. For Latte Training Academy it means that there will continue to be a need for a trained and available workforce,” she said.
“GDP is the key indicator for economic health, so for businesses, it serves as a signal when making decisions relating to investments or the launching of a new enterprise,” Buyum added.
The Latte Training Academy, formed in late 2013, was in response to the impending deadline of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program in 2019 and the need for local workforce development. Currently, the academy has a passing rate of 95 percent among its graduates.
Buyum said the casino investment is probably the single biggest factor for the CNMI’s economic growth.
“When economic spending occurred because of that, there was more money circulating in the economy, more items being imported and tourism—which is counted as an export—increased, the CNMI’s tax base increased, and on-island spending increased because the employment resulting from the investment allowed people to work and earn. The wage increases also probably helped to some extent, prompting an increase in disposable income,” she said.
Buyum believes that a strong economy provides opportunities for additional investment, but also some breathing room to develop a diversified economy to continue to provide employment opportunities and the ability for local families to justify the financial feasibility of returning to the CNMI to work.
“Learning from the CNMI’s economic history, it is critical to develop additional industries during a strong economy,” she said. “A strong economy means more employment opportunities within the community, which translates to LTA providing services that are needed.”
The BEA reported Monday last week that the CNMI’s gross domestic product grew by 28.6 percent in 2016.