Sunday, November 23, 2008

Report: Thousands of locals have already left NMI

Monday, 24 November 2008 00:00 By Junhan B. Todeno - Variety News Staff

Because of the economic crisis, more than 4,000 local residents have already moved to the states, according to the report conducted on the economic impact of federalization on the CNMI.

“Like American Samoans, people originally from the CNMI have established substantial communities on the mainland, particularly in the western states,” Malcolm D. McPhee & Associates said in its 96-page report.

The federally funded report was commissioned by the governor, who is now using its findings to support the lawsuit he filed against the federalization law.

Rota’s Sen. Paul A. Manglona and Rep. Victor B. Hocog have noted the “heavy exodus” of island residents seeking good paying jobs in the U.S.

Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela believes that four families “are leaving every week.”

According to the report, the loss of local residents will further damage the economy because it is reducing the local labor force.

“With no ability to replace those workers, the economy would slump even more,” the report stated.

It noted that the CNMI is losing its young and educated residents, which will reduce its chances for economic advancement in the future.

This reporter interviewed several local residents who were holding yard sales because they had decided to settle down in the states.

“We’re moving out by January next week,” a family in Koblerville said.

Another resident said they will join their relatives who are now in the states.

“In light of the lack of jobs, a decline in the standard of living, a deteriorating public sector, and the right to move freely to the states, which offer much higher paying jobs, it would be surprising if a substantial number of U.S qualified residents did not leave the CNMI,” the report said.

Former Speaker Oscar C. Rasa, the CNMI Descents for Self-Government and Indigenous Rights spokesman and adviser, said the exodus will continue “if we do nothing to counter this problem.”

The report said if there is no significant outmigration, the local economy will eventually settle down to a workable size, supporting about 16,000 jobs.

However, it added, with no ability to expand its workforce, the economy will ultimately stagnate.

“Because of distance and cultural differences, CNMI residents may be less inclined to move away from home than people in the rest of the United States. But it should be pointed that for years there has been a steady stream of American Samoans migrating to the states in search of better jobs and schools. Moreover, as Samoans have built communities in the states, it appears that the process of leaving home has become easier,” the report stated.

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