News Release

EMBARGOED UNTIL RELEASE AT 2:00 P.M. EST, Tuesday, November 30, 2021
BEA 21—60

Gross Domestic Product for American Samoa, 2020
Gross Domestic Product by Industry and Compensation by Industry, 2019

Real gross domestic product (GDP) for American Samoa increased 4.0 percent in 2020 after decreasing 0.6 percent in 2019 (table 1.3), according to statistics released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). These statistics were developed under the Statistical Improvement Program funded by the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

GDP for 2020

The increase in real GDP reflected widespread growth among the major components of GDP including exports, private inventory investment, and government spending (table 1.4). These increases were partly offset by an increase in imports, which is a subtraction item in the calculation of GDP.

Chart: American Samoa: Contributions to the Percent Change in Real GDP, 2020
How to Interpret Contributions to Percent Change in Major GDP Components

There is often interest in how much a specific GDP component contributes to the change in real GDP. BEA publishes this measure in news release table 1.4. The chart above shows both the percent change of total real GDP and the contributions (in percentage points) of each major component to that change. For example, exports accounted for 6.03 percentage points of the 4.0 percent increase in real GDP in 2020. This means, all else equal, had exports neither increased nor decreased in 2020, real GDP would have decreased 2.0 percent.

Activity related to the tuna canning industry was a significant source of growth in the American Samoa economy. The canning industry's operations in American Samoa were less affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison to other parts of the world. Exports of goods increased 15.5 percent, reflecting an increase in exports of canned tuna and related products. Private inventory investment increased, reflecting growth in supplies held by the tuna canning industry.

Government spending increased 10.1 percent; the increase was accounted for by growth in territorial government spending. Spending by the American Samoa government was supported by federal grant revenues, including Coronavirus Relief Fund payments.

COVID-19 Impact on the 2020 American Samoa GDP Estimate

According to the World Health Organization, there were zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in American Samoa in 2020. The American Samoa economy was affected by the government response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The territorial government instituted a number of restrictions, such as border closures, and the federal government passed several laws to support and sustain businesses and individuals through the pandemic. However, the full effects of the pandemic cannot be quantified in BEA's statistics for American Samoa because the impacts are generally embedded in the data sources used to estimate the components of GDP.

GDP by industry and compensation by industry for 2019

In 2019, GDP declined by 0.6 percent. The newly available GDP by industry data, which are released on a 1-year lag, reveal that the 2019 GDP decline was the result of a decline in the private sector that was partly offset by an increase in the public sector (table 2.5).

The contraction in the private sector reflected declines in both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing. Manufacturing value added decreased 4.7 percent (table 2.4), reflecting decreased cannery output. Nonmanufacturing value added decreased 1.0 percent, largely reflecting decreases in industries that had previously supported reconstruction activities associated with Tropical Cyclone Gita.

The government sector increased 2.1 percent, primarily reflecting increases in compensation of territorial government employees and operating surplus of territorial government enterprises.

Total compensation increased in 2019, reflecting growth in manufacturing industries and in the territorial government sector (table 2.6).

The accompanying news release tables present estimates for GDP and its major components, GDP by industry, compensation by industry, and estimates of gross domestic income.

Updates to GDP and Related Estimates

Estimates for 2018 and 2019 that were released on December 11, 2020, have been revised to incorporate updates to source data, including the following:

  • Value of imported goods by type from the American Samoa Department of Commerce,
  • Number of visitor arrivals from the American Samoa Department of Commerce,
  • The American Samoa Department of Commerce Statistical Yearbook,
  • Audited financial statements for the American Samoa Government and its independent agencies, and
  • Wage and employment information from the U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns.

The revised estimates exhibit a pattern of inflation-adjusted GDP growth similar to the previously published estimates (table 1.7).

For more information on the data sources underlying these estimates, see the appendix in "Territorial Economic Accounts for American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

Next release: Summer 2022
Gross Domestic Product for American Samoa, 2021
American Samoa GDP by Industry and Compensation by Industry, 2020