Is It Hard to Find a Job on Guam?
As you start your job search on Guam, you’ll discover a couple of challenges facing job seekers. It’s important to be aware of these so you can set your expectations accordingly.
Challenge #1: Higher Unemployment Rate
Guam’s unemployment rate trends higher than the U.S. average. In September 2021, it was ~3.5% higher than the unemployment rate in the U.S. overall.
However, the latest data from December 2022 is promising. Guam’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.0%, which is only 0.7% higher than the U.S. average.
In other words, while Guam’s unemployment rate continues to drop, it’s still a little higher than what you’d encounter on the U.S. mainland. Keep that in mind.
Challenge #2: Lower Salaries & Hourly Wages
The other challenge you may encounter on Guam is the fact that, while jobs may be available, they may not pay as much as you’re expecting. As you can see below, workers across the U.S. receive hourly and annual wages that are nearly 50% higher than on Guam—on average.
Guam Wages vs. U.S. Averages
$20.05Hourly Wage Guam (mean)
Mean Wage U.S. (mean)
$41,690Annual Wage Guam (mean)
Annual Wage U.S. (mean)
Given that the cost of living on Guam is significant, these lower wages can create challenges for many Guam residents. If you’re considering a move to Guam, check out our article on the real cost of living on Guam, and budget accordingly.
Challenge #3: Time from Application to Hiring
Another frustration that job seekers encounter on Guam is the timeline. It often takes a lot longer to find a job on Guam. Even when you do find a job that’s suited to your skills and interests, the actual hiring process can take weeks.
In fact, Joint Region Marianas advises military spouses looking for work on Guam that it might take two to four months to find a job—or longer to find the right job.
Especially if you’re used to U.S. mainland timelines, this might feel frustrating. As much as you can, muster your patience. Along with a little persistence, this quality will serve you well on Guam overall.
Challenge #4: Who You Know Matters
Finally, when it comes to finding a job on Guam, who you know can be as important as what you know. When you’re looking for a job, knowing a relative, friend, or colleague who can help you get your foot in the door will make a huge difference.
You might hear reference to something called “pare” on Guam. Some think of this as the “good old boys network.” Others think of it as nepotism—giving preferential treatment to one’s relatives. Others simply see it as a way to help out the people they’re related to or friends with—no big deal.
However you think about it, the reality is that personal connections on Guam can help you get a job faster.
If you already live on Guam and you have an extensive network, this might not feel like a challenge. However, if you’re new to Guam, it might feel like the deck is stacked against you.
Our advice? Talk to everyone you meet, and tell them you’re looking for a job. Guam can be a friendly place, and you’ll make connections faster than you think. One of those new acquaintances might match you with the perfect job. No matter what, you’ll start to build your social circle, which will be a great support system for you on the island.