Northern Mariana Islands’ Economy Grew in 2010

The economy of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) grew 2.3 percent in 2010, according to new estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) largely reflected increases in territorial government spending, consumer spending, and exports of goods and services.

For the first time, BEA also 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.

CNMI returned to growth in 2010 after 6 consecutive years of economic contraction. The territory’s growth compares with 2.4 percent for the United States as a whole in 2010.

The increase in territorial government spending included funds made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The upturn in consumer spending reflected increases in spending on goods and services. Exports, meanwhile, rose for the first time after 5 consecutive years of decline. Tourism services (which make up the majority of exports of services) grew due to an increase in the number of visitors to the islands, offsetting continued declines in the exports of goods.

An increase in imports tempered economic growth.

GDP by industry and compensation by industry
The distributive services industry, including retail and wholesale trade, contributed the most to economic growth in 2010, the new estimates showed. The accommodations and amusement industry, including hotel and food services, along with other tourism-related services, also helped boost growth in 2010.

The manufacturing industry shrank 2.9 percent in 2010, its 6th straight year of decline. The contraction in manufacturing coincided with the decline of the territory’s garment industry. In February 2009, the last garment maker in CNMI closed. Manufacturing accounted for 3 percent of the territory’s total GDP in 2010, compared with 35 percent in 2005.

The accommodations and amusements industry accounted for 15 percent of GDP in 2010, up from 7 percent in 2005. Overall, the private sector has declined as a share of total GDP to 67 percent in 2010, from 75 percent in 2005.

From 2005 and 2010, compensation of employees in the manufacturing industry shrank from $203 million to $9 million in current dollars, not adjusted for inflation.

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

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