Macau's New Visa Problem
Local economy got you down? Tired of the double-digit unemployment in your home economy? Don't like living in those freezing winters? Well my friend, move to sunny Macau. The subtropical climate creates an endless stream of beach weather. More importantly, the unemployment rate is already a low 2.9% . Plus, the casino companies have restarted their major projects. Sands and Galaxy are working on their mothball projects. Wynn and MGM are beginning to get serious and plan for their Cotai resorts. Come work in Macau! Oh wait you can't, your not Macanese.
The Macau SAR government is getting rather picky who people hire in the current boom. This is a familiar theme for Casino operation, as companies were required to hire Macau residents for many jobs, particularly in operations. Yet the problem is stretching to other areas. The SAR has cut their foreign workers by a third over the past two years.
This has had a considerable impact on the construction going on. Recently both Sands Las Vegas and Galaxy announced their restarted construction would be delayed due to the lack of construction workers. Galaxy's initial announcement that a majority of the workers on its restarted projected would be Macanese was greeted with skepticism in the local press. The skeptics were later confirmed when Galaxy publicly asked the government to reconsider its 1-to-1 hiring rule for construction workers at the same time the announced their delay.
The general consensus is the more restrictive guest worker rules are a function of the economic crisis that affected Macau, and will be relaxed. I am not sure of that. First, historically Macau has been worried about low-cost mainland labor will flood the SAR, not ot mention the usual smattering of low-cost labor from SE Asian centers like Indonesia and the Philippines. These rules coupled with the casino boom have lead an usually high unemployment rate to be cut in half over the past decade. They may not want to kill the goose laying the politically golden egg.
This might prove to be a bit foolish long term however. In the current shortage many point out that those employed either do not want to be involved in gaming, or do not have the needed skills to work in the business. Also the shortage of skilled workers can cripple other industries looking for work, thus hampering a recently announced drive to reduce the reliance on casinos.