September 24, 2012

The economy of Guam grew 1.2 percent in 2010, according to new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) largely reflected increases in territorial and federal government spending, along with a shrinking territorial trade deficit.

GDP offers the most comprehensive picture of the territory’s economy. Although more timely indicators like the consumer price index, unemployment, and visitor arrivals are available, GDP looks at all aspects of Guam’s economy, including prices, output, consumer spending, and trade.

For the first time, BEA calculated estimates of GDP by industry, compensation by industry, and detailed consumer spending for the territory. BEA also revised previous estimates for 2002 to 2009.

The 1.2 percent increase in 2010 followed a 1.1 percent gain in 2009 and compares with 2.4 percent growth for the United States as a whole in 2010.

The pickup in territorial government spending reflected more spending on building projects, including the construction of a landfill, as well as more compensation for territorial government employees. The increase in federal government spending reflected increased economic activity by Department of Defense employees.

The improved trade balance contributed 1.1 percentage points to overall growth. Imports declined more than exports, narrowing the trade deficit. Exports add to GDP, while imports subtract from it.

Real consumer spending in Guam declined 3.3 percent in 2010.

GDP by industry and compensation by industry
Taken together, private industries subtracted 0.14 percentage point from overall growth in 2010, while government contributed 1.3 percentage points.

In 2010, the federal government—including a large U.S. military presence—accounted for 30 percent of economic activity in Guam. Federal employee compensation accounted for $952 million of the territory’s total $3.0 billion in employee compensation.

Among private industries, construction contributed 0.49 percentage point to economic growth in 2010, the new estimates show. The accommodations and amusement industry, including hotel and food services—along with other tourism-related services—contributed to overall growth for the first time since 2004.

BEA plans to release estimates for 2011 in the spring of 2013. You can read the latest news release and tables here.