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GDP 1.7% in 2009

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Guam is now on track with the U.S. mainland in determining its gross domestic product, and as figures released today show the island is above the rest and one of the "shining stars" in terms of analysis and real GDP. During a press conference at Adelup, Acting Governor Ray Tenorio, Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for the Office of Insular Affairs Tony Babauta and a team from the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis revealed that Guam's real GDP was 1.7% in 2009 after increasing 0.5% in 2008 from the previous year.

In comparison, real GDP for the U.S., excluding the territories decreased 2.6% in 2009 after remaining unchanged in 2008. Tenorio noted, "It means that more people are obviously doing better here than comparable places like in Saipan, obviously our friends in the north, if not have done as well, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands other insular areas so relative to those areas we are doing better. It doesn't mean that we're doing great, there are a lot of people who are still looking for work and trying to make ends meet."

BEA Deputy Director Brian Moyer says the largest contributor to the growth in the past two years is a result of federal spending for example salaries for military personnel and construction activity. "Much of this spending was by the Department of Defense. While Federal Government spending was the key driver in the economy, the drag on Guam's GDP over these two years was primarily the tourism industry," he said.

Tourism in 2008 was down 12.1% and was down 9% in 2009, partly due to the worldwide recession at that time. Additionally in 2008, consumer spending was flat and in 2009 declined 1.5% due to a response in higher prices that consumers faced in the market. The report now puts Guam's economic issues on the same platform of the U.S. mainland.

"So these facts and figures will help the Government of Guam make better decisions on policies, to be able to invite more economic interests or investment into the island and also for our government to look at whether or not we are friendly to business in trying to bring more investment to Guam so that more jobs and more capital improvements occur," said Tenorio.

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