The Secretary of Internal Affairs in the Cook Islands says a new labour report provides much-needed data and will help the government make good policy for the future.
The labour monograph is based on 2011 Census information and was produced with the assistance of the United Nations Population Fund.
The report will assist in the creation of a National Labour Advisory committee.
Bredina Drollet says the report shows there is relatively low unemployment and labour shortages brought on by depopulation.
Out of around 7,700 people in the labour force, 16 percent are foreigners.
Ms Drollet says the information brings up a number of issues.
"The biggest issue, I think, is how does government best address the labour shortages. As a society we need to ask ourselves can we accept increasing the foreign worker population to ensure that our economy continues to grow at the rate it has been or what policies do we need to put in place to ensure we attract Cook Islanders to return and fulfil those labour needs."
Ms Drollet says labour welfare also needs to be looked at as there is an indication of under-reporting of worker grievances.