News Release

EMBARGOED UNTIL RELEASE AT 10:00 A.M. EST, Friday, March 4, 2022
BEA 22—07

Gross Domestic Product for the U.S. Virgin Islands, 2020
Gross Domestic Product by Industry and Compensation by Industry, 2019

Real gross domestic product (GDP) for the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) decreased 2.2 percent in 2020 after increasing 2.8 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 decrease in real GDP reflected decreases in exports of services, private fixed investment, personal consumption expenditures, and government spending (table 1.4). These decreases were partly offset by an increase in private inventory investment. Imports, a subtraction item in the calculation of GDP, declined.

Chart: U.S. Virgin Islands: Contributions to the Percent Change in Real GDP, 2020
COVID-19 Impact on the 2020 USVI GDP Estimate

The USVI economy was substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic due to its effects on spending by consumers, visitors, businesses, and governments. The U.S. government passed several laws to support and sustain businesses and individuals through the pandemic. Expenditures funded by the various federal grants and transfer payments are reflected in the GDP estimates. However, the full effects of the pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP statistics for the USVI because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.

Exports of services, which consists primarily of spending by visitors, decreased 43.5 percent (table 1.3). Total visitor arrivals declined 58.5 percent, according to statistics from the USVI government, reflecting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Private fixed investment decreased 27.7 percent, reflecting declines in business spending on construction and equipment. Despite this decline, private-sector investment spending remained at an elevated level (table 1.2), supported by capital improvement projects ongoing in 2020 to resume oil refinery operations on St. Croix.

Personal consumption expenditures decreased 5.0 percent, reflecting declines in spending on goods, such as motor vehicles and household appliances, and services, as nonessential businesses throughout the territory were subject to mandatory reductions in operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government spending decreased 4.0 percent, reflecting a decrease in territorial government spending that was partly offset by an increase in federal government spending. Territorial government spending decreased 7.2 percent, reflecting a continued decline in disaster response and recovery activities following the 2017 hurricanes. Although spending in 2020 was supported by Coronavirus Relief Fund payments, prior year spending was elevated by expenditures funded by federal disaster grants.

The declines in the components above were partly offset by an increase in private inventory investment, reflecting an increase in crude oil and other petroleum products imported and stored in the islands.

Imports decreased 10.6 percent, reflecting declines in imports of goods including consumer goods and equipment and in imports of services.

GDP by industry and compensation by industry for 2019

In 2019, GDP increased 2.8 percent. The newly available GDP by industry data, which are released on a 1-year lag, reveal that both the private sector and government sector contributed to growth in real GDP in 2019 (table 2.5).

Growth in the private sector was widespread; the largest increase was in accommodation and food services, which increased 14.4 percent, reflecting growth in visitor spending (table 2.4). Goods-producing industries increased 5.5 percent, reflecting an increase in construction activity, including construction related to the restart of the oil refinery on St. Croix.

The government sector increased 2.5 percent, primarily reflecting increases in compensation for both federal and territorial government employees.

Total compensation increased in 2019, reflecting growth in all industries shown (table 2.6). The largest contributor was goods-producing industries, which includes the construction industry.

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.


Data Availability for the 2020 USVI GDP Estimate


Due to lags in the availability of source data, in particular for territorial government spending and territorial government sales to the household sector, the estimates presented in the news release are preliminary for 2020. As of February 2022, most of the USVI government's fiscal year 2020 audited financial statements were unavailable. In place of these financial statements, BEA used information from a variety of alternate data sources, including budget documents, unaudited operating statements, reports on federal grant expenditures, and the USVI government's Open Finance database, which includes checkbook-level spending by the primary government.


Updates to GDP and Related Estimates for Prior Years


Estimates for 2018 and 2019 that were released on May 26, 2021, have been revised to incorporate updates to source data, including the following:

  • Newly available audited financial statements for the Government of USVI and its independent agencies and
  • Revised data on shipments from the U.S. Census Bureau's International Trade in Goods and Services (FT-900) report.

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

For more information on data sources underlying these estimates, see "Summary of Methodologies: Gross Domestic Product for American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

Next release: First Quarter 2023
Gross Domestic Product for the U.S. Virgin Islands, 2021
U.S. Virgin Islands GDP by Industry and Compensation by Industry, 2020