News Release

EMBARGOED UNTIL RELEASE AT 1:30 P.M. EST, Friday, December 11, 2020
BEA 20-63

American Samoa GDP Decreases in 2019

Today, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) is releasing estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) for American Samoa for 2019, in addition to estimates of GDP by industry and compensation by industry for 2018.1 These estimates were developed under the Statistical Improvement Program funded by the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Gross Domestic Product for 2019

The estimates of GDP for American Samoa show that real GDP—GDP adjusted to remove price changes—decreased 1.4 percent in 2019.

Contributions to Percent Change in Real GDP for 2019

As shown in Chart 1, the decline in real GDP reflected decreases in government spending, exports, and private fixed investment that were partly offset by an increase in consumer spending and inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

Government spending decreased 8.8 percent (see Table 1.3). This decrease primarily reflected a decline in territorial government spending following the completion in 2018 of a multimillion-dollar telecommunications construction project.

Exports decreased 4.7 percent, primarily reflecting a decrease in exports of canned tuna and related products.

Private fixed investment decreased 22.7 percent. This decrease reflected declines in construction activity and purchases of equipment following the completion in the prior year of reconstruction activities associated with Tropical Cyclone Gita.

Consumer spending increased 3.0 percent. This reflected growth in services that was largely driven by purchases of health care services. Health care services included those directly financed by government social benefits such as Medicaid. The federal government's Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (P.L. 116-20) provided American Samoa with additional federal Medicaid funding.

Inventory investment increased, reflecting growth in supplies held by the canning industry.

Gross Domestic Product by Industry and Compensation by Industry for 2018

The estimates of GDP by industry for American Samoa show that the private sector was the source of economic growth in 2018 (see Table 2.4).

The growth in the private sector reflected an increase in manufacturing output of the cannery industry. Output of nonmanufacturing industries, such as construction and related professional services, also increased, reflecting post-cyclone recovery activities.2

The government sector declined, primarily reflecting a decrease in territorial government compensation.

The compensation by industry estimates, which are measured in current dollars, show trends in compensation for major industries (see Table 2.6). Total compensation increased in 2018, primarily reflecting growth in manufacturing.

The accompanying tables present estimates for GDP and its major components, GDP by industry, and compensation by industry. Also included in this release are estimates for the major components of gross domestic income.

Revisions to GDP and Related Estimates

This release also includes the results of a comprehensive update of the territorial economic accounts. Comprehensive updates are typically performed every 5 years, based on the Census Bureau's every-five-years economic censuses of island areas.

With the comprehensive update, estimates for 2002 to 2018 have been revised in order to incorporate improvements to source data, including information from:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau's 2017 Economic Census of Island Areas (ECIA), which provides the most thorough and detailed statistics on the structure of the American Samoa economy,
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2018 Census of Agriculture for American Samoa,
  • The American Samoa Department of Commerce's 2015 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES),
  • Updates to BEA's U.S. national income and product accounts,
  • Newly available County Business Patterns data for 2017 and 2018 from the U.S. Census Bureau, and
  • Newly available American Samoa government data sources, such as fiscal year 2019 (and select fiscal year 2018) audited government financial statements and fiscal year 2019 imports of goods.

Although the new estimates show a similar pattern of inflation-adjusted growth as the previously published estimates, some of the more recent years are revised substantially (see Chart 2).

Percent Change from Preceding Year in Real GDP

The largest source of the revisions to real GDP from 2013 to 2017 was the incorporation of 2017 ECIA data for the retail sector, which indicated higher growth in retail sales over this period than originally estimated. For 2018, the revision primarily reflected the incorporation of revenues and expenditures data from newly available government financial statements.

The reference year for inflation-adjusted measures has also been updated to 2012, the same period as the U.S. national GDP estimates.

The estimates of GDP by industry and compensation by industry have been updated to incorporate the above data sources.

Future Directions

Moving forward, an agreement between OIA and BEA will extend and improve the estimates of GDP for American Samoa. The information provided by the American Samoa Government will continue to be critical to the successful production of these estimates.

BEA currently plans to release GDP estimates for 2020 for all territories beginning in the summer of 2021. GDP by industry and compensation by industry estimates for 2019 will be released at the same time.

1 These estimates are based on limited source data and are subject to revision.

2 Note that construction activities performed by the government sector are reflected within nonmanufacturing industry value added.