An Interpretation Of The 1995 Census Of Population With An Examination Of Possible Future Implications, September 18, 1996

An Interpretation Of The 1995 Census Of Population With An Examination Of Possible Future Implications, September 18, 1996

Preliminary results of the 1995 census indicate the total population of the CNMI at 58,846 for an increase of 37.8 percent over the 1990 population of 43,345. Saipan registered 89.5 percent of those recorded while Tinian and Rota represented 4.5 and 6.0 percent respectively. Over the five year period between 1990 and 1995 the average annual growth was equal to 7.1 percent per year. Over the 15 year period since the 1980 census which enumerated 16,780 persons, the population has increased 250.7 percent or by an average of 16.7 percent annually. Unprecedented economic growth and the concomitant necessity for nonresident workers accounts for the large increase in population. In 1995, 81 percent of the population (47,656 persons) resided in 12,060 housing units while 11,190 or 19 percent lived in 212 group quarters or barracks.

In 1995, 2,497 housing units were classified as vacant, (many of which were under construction at the time of the census). The total number of units occupied, vacant or classified as group quarters was 14,769. Over the five year period (‘90 – ‘95), the number of occupied housing units increased 75.5 percent from 6,873 to 11,060 in 1995 and increased 257.5 percent since 1980. In terms of the ethnicity of the population, the Chinese registered the greatest gain since 1990 at 137.3 percent, (6,837 Chinese in 1995). This large percentage increase is a result of a rather small number of Chinese (2,881) in the base year of 1990. The Chinese represented 11.6 percent of the total population. “Whites” increased by 130.1 percent for a total of 2,013 persons, (a person is considered white if one is occidental or of European origin, a Caucasian {caucasoid}). This group represented 3.4 percent of the total population. It should be noted that the term “American” or “European” does not represent an ethnic group. People of Chamorro or Carolinian ethnicity represent 34.3 percent of the 1995 total. The Chamorro and Carolinian population combined increased by 22.4 percent from 17,181 in 1990 to 20,161 in 1995. The breakdown of the population in descending order is as follows: Filipino – 19,868, (33.75%); Chamorro – 17,120 (29.1%); Chinese – 6,837, (11.6%); Micronesian – 4,818, (8.2%); Carolinian – 3,041, (5.2%); Korean – 2,325 (3.95%); White – 2,013, (3.4%); Japanese – 1,047, (1.8%) and all others – 1,777, (3.0%). The only group that registered a decline over the past five years was the Korean segment which dropped 9.57 percent from that recorded in 1990. United States citizens totaled 27,489 – (46.7%); non U. S. citizen permanent residents, – 3,405 – (5.8 %); temporary residents, (non U. S. citizens) – 27,952 – (47.5 %). The average daily visitor population of 6,200 (1995) is not included in the above. The islands now sustain the largest population since the war years of 1944 when, for a brief period the temporary population reached a total of 108,065 but declined daily as a result of hostilities. Assumptions For Projecting The Population The mathematical factors and growth rate estimates for projecting the population normally would start with the most recent census as the base year. To this one would add births, subtract deaths, add “in migration” and subtract “out migration.” However, in the case of the latter, this information is not known for the Commonwealth.

The following projection to the year 2001 basically utilizes – with one exception- the same annual percentage increases as occurred between 1990 and 1995. One notable exception being the rate of growth of Chinese nonresident workers which has been estimated at 3.5 percent per year rather than the abnormally high average annual growth rate of 27.46 percent experienced between 1990 and 1995. Nonresident workers within the garment industry are not expected to be present in the Commonwealth in any large number after 1998. It is expected, however, that investors in the tourist sector will continue to find the CNMI offering profitable opportunities. The loss of garment workers could be offset by additional nonresident hotel workers and others in the tourist sector. These two possible events, namely, the loss of the garment industry and the gain of additional hotels illustrates the difficulty in making future projections for specific sectors of the economy. In terms of making up revenues lost with the departure of garment manufacturing, it has been estimated that an additional 137,100 annual tourist arrivals over the total number of visitors in 1995, (total arrivals 783,700 annually) would compensate for the loss of revenue from this manufacturing sector. This economic strategy assumes no significant change in the competitive position of the Commonwealth’s tourist economy; that the exchange rate between the U. S. dollar and Asian currencies will continue to offer lucrative values for the visitor; the projected hotel rooms will be available; the Commonwealth will continue to control immigration; the minimum wage will have reached parity with the U. S. dollar; no natural disasters will have occurred to disrupt the economy; the Internal Revenue Code will be applied with rebates permitted at approximately the present rate as investment incentives; duty free entry into the United States market of CNMI manufactured products will continue to be permitted; the existing garment industry in the Commonwealth will relocate elsewhere starting around 1998.

The legislature will act to improve the investment climate of the Commonwealth and will not enact laws detrimental to business investment and growth and: – The indigenous population of Chamorros and Carolinians has been projected to increase annually by 4.1 and 0.36 percent respectively per year to 2001. – Other United States citizens are projected to increase by 26 percent annually. While this may appear to be a large percentage increase this segment of the population was rather small at the time of the base year and accounted for only 3.4 percent of the total population or 2,162 people (1995). – Micronesian entries from Palau, the Federated States and the Marshall Islands and / or their births in local hospitals have been projected to increase by 7.8 percent. – This strategy utilizes the low and high scenarios for visitor entry projections developed by the Marianas Visitors Bureau for the year 2001 and assumes the hotel rooms necessary to accommodate this increase will be available and that the additional non-resident workers necessary to staff the facilities will be permitted entry into the Commonwealth. The low projection for the average daily visitor population in the Commonwealth by the year 2001 has been projected to be 10,000 with a total of 6,950 hotel rooms required. The high projection anticipates an average daily visitor population of 13,100 visitors and a requirement for 9,115 hotel rooms. These projections are for air arrivals only and assume an average length of stay of 3.5 days and a hotel / guest room ratio of 1.8. An Examination Of The Possible Future Implications Of A Larger Population By The Year 2001 In projecting the population growth to the year 2001 the following assumptions have been made. With the exception of the average annual growth rate of the Chinese, the annual percentage increases experienced within other ethnic groups over the previous five years will remain essentially the same over the next five years. The average annual rate of growth of the Chinese will not remain as in prior years and will decline to an annual growth rate estimated at 3.5 percent. Finally, the economy of the three principal islands in the Commonwealth will grow at an annual rate equal to that of the previous five years. Additionally, the projection is based on an evaluation of the present general economy of the Commonwealth and does not take into account, or make provision for, the effect of sharp changes in the Northern Mariana’s economy or its major Asian tourist markets not presently foreseeable. One major factor that may require a revision of the projections at a later date would be the advent of casinos on Tinian. Such development would require a complete revision upward of the population projection. Having stated the above – and applying the average annual percentage increase in the population between the years 1990 and 1995 when projecting these data to the year 2001 – such a forecast indicates the population could be approximately 87,000 with the Chamorro and Carolinian population accounting for 28.3 percent or 24,650 persons.

Certainly no one has a crystal ball to peer into the future, and to the extent that any of the above percentage growth factors are in error, then the final estimated population will be wrong. Hazardous as it is, it is an improvement over the intuitive method which some would employ without any attempt to measure the factors involved. The following projections could be considered indicative if the average annual percentage of growth for each ethnic group, (other than that of the Chinese) remains similar to that witnessed over the previous five year period. With the above qualifying proviso, the composition of the population could be as follows: Filipino – 31,656; Chamorro – 21,800; Chinese – 8,402; Whites – 8,051; Micronesians – 7,545; Carolinian – 3,108; Korean – 2,531; Japanese – 1,550 and all others – 2,377. In terms of population density, Saipan would increase from 1,133 people per square mile in 1995 to 1,676 by the year 2001; Tinian would go from 67 to 99 and Rota from 107 to 158 people per square mile as we enter the first day of the first year of the 21st century. This growth would amount to an increase of population density of 47.9 percent by 2001 not including the average daily visitor population in the islands. The year 2001 is not too far off – it is as close to us as the Gulf War is in the past. Projections are only guideposts pointing the way if the rate of growth that occurred over the “measured past” – in this case five years – was to continue at the same rate over the next five years – where would we be?

The question must be posed – would that future be in the best overall interest of the islands? As everyone knows, there is a direct correlation between the size of a population and the number of medical, education, public safety and other public service personnel required in a society. Adequate power, water, solid waste disposal, vehicle traffic, schools, etc., are all issues to be addressed. Often two schools of thought oppose each other over the issue of continued growth. One group considers such increases a recipe for achieving ever more business opportunities and larger profits while the other side would probably like to retain some semblance of the status quo if not an actual reduction. The difficulty arises when trying to achieve some sort of balance between the two that, if not satisfy, will placate both sides. One reason the Commonwealth was permitted control of its immigration was to avoid the possibility of being overwhelmed as a result of United States immigration quotas as applied to Asian countries. It was feared that immigrants entering the United States would select the new Commonwealth as a port of entry to the United States and very possibly a place of residence because of the island’s proximity to their home country. Since 1981, three and one half million people from Asia alone have immigrated to the United States according to the Visa Section of the U. S. Department of State. If only 5 percent, or 175,000 people, settled in the Commonwealth – there would be standing room only. The total population, including the indigenous would be around 233,846.

Considering only immigration to the United States from Asia for the period 1981 thru ‘93, the ethnic composition of the Commonwealth would have changed radically if you except the premise that five percent of the total would stop off and remain in the islands. Using State Department ratios to estimate the ethnic mix, there could have been about: 37,200 Filipinos; 22,900 Chinese; 18,200 Koreans; 18,300 from India; 17,900 Vietnamese; 7,200 from Hong Kong; 3,600 Japanese and 49,700 from other Asian countries or a total of 175,000 people as opposed to only 18,300 indigenous people. Had U. S. immigration laws been applied in the Commonwealth it is also quite likely that by 1995 the indigenous population would comprise only 8.6 percent of the total population and would continue to decline as a percent of the total in future years.