By Edith G. Alejandro

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Sept. 22) - More than 35,000 individuals in the Northern Mariana Islands are guest workers – nearly half the 80,000 total population in the commonwealth.

Based on the CNMI 2000 Census of Population report released by the U.S. Census, there are 44,400 individuals who were born outside the CNMI but are currently here due to several reasons.

Of the 44,400-alien population, Saipan has 40,880 immigrants, Tinian has 1,956 immigrants, Rota has 1,563 immigrants, and the Northern Islands have one.

The report added that employment was listed as the main reason why 35,444 individuals are currently on Saipan while 5,720 individuals have moved in with their spouse or parents.

At least 200 individuals were lured by missionary activities and the slow-paced lifestyle in the CNMI, while 84 admitted that they took a liking on the subsistence activities.

Also, 938 individuals are in the Northern Marianas to attend school, while 133 are here for housing; some 1,878 came here due to other reasons.

The report also stated that of the 11 districts on Saipan, Capitol Hill, Garapan, Gualo Rai, and Navy Hill host the most number of immigrants totaling to 11,058, followed by District 10 that comprises Dandan, Kagman, and San Vicente with 8,216 individuals.

In addition, of the 35,444 individuals who moved to the Northern Marianas to work, at least 32,967 are on Saipan and were distributed to 11 districts. Capitol Hill also topped the list of districts with huge number of workers.

The U.S. Census Bureau's 2002 economic census in the CNMI show that the number of businesses in the Commonwealth went down in 2002, when compared to the 1997 economic census.

Of the 1,113 businesses that were identified in the census, about 7 percent have not responded, which could mean that some of them are no longer in business.

The 1,113 CNMI businesses were identified as having 1 or more paid employees during 2002 based on Internal Revenue Services records.

The final results of the 2002 economic census will tentatively be released in early 2004.

For the first time, the 2002 economic census included new questions pertaining to e-commerce and women-owned businesses.

The Economic Census is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every five years with the help of the CNMI Department of Commerce.

It covers virtually all sectors of the economy, with the exceptions of agriculture, schools, and public administration.

Key data items are sales or receipts, employment and payroll, kind of business, geographic location, types of customers, legal form of organization, and citizenship of owner(s).

Businesses were mailed forms in December 2002. Businesses in operation at any point during 2002 are in-scope of the Economic Census. Three follow-up mail-outs were conducted from March to May 2003 and Census Bureau staff conducted telephone follow-up in June and July 2003.

Participation by businesses is required by Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Title 13 also guarantees confidentiality of individual reports.

September 22, 2003

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