The estimates of GDP for the U.S. Virgin Islands show that real GDP—GDP adjusted to remove price changes—increased 1.5 percent in 2018 after decreasing 0.6 percent in 2017. For comparison, real GDP for the United States (excluding the territories) increased 2.9 percent in 2018 after increasing 2.4 percent in 2017.
The growth in the U.S. Virgin Islands' economy reflected increases in government spending, private fixed investment, and consumer spending. These increases were partly offset by a decrease in exports of services.
Territorial government spending increased 38.7 percent, reflecting spending on hurricane response and recovery activities that were largely funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance grants. Major projects included emergency work and longer-term repairs to the electrical system. Federal government spending also increased significantly due to disaster recovery activities, including debris removal and oil spill cleanup.
Private fixed investment increased 51.4 percent, reflecting growth in business purchases of equipment and in construction, including homes. Federal grants supported the reconstruction and major repairs of businesses and homes that were destroyed or heavily damaged by the 2017 hurricanes.
Consumer spending also increased, reflecting growth in household purchases of goods, including motor vehicles and food.
Partly offsetting these increases was a decline in exports of services, which consists primarily of spending by tourists. Total visitor arrivals decreased; the number of air visitors, who spend more on average than cruise visitors, decreased 23 percent. Arrivals by air fell significantly in the months following the hurricanes and remained below pre-hurricane levels throughout 2018.
For more information, read the full report.