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2012 Am. Samoa Economic Census released

Data still needs more validation, but slowly points for comparison developing
fili@samoanews.com

Government investment in capital improvements for 2012 is included in the more than $70 million in total capital expenditures for American Samoa, according to  Lee R. Wentela, branch chief of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Economic Census Branch.
 
However, the total amount of just government spending in capital expenditures was not available when Wentela officially presented to the local community highlights of the 2012 American Samoa Economic Census yesterday.
 
Wentela along with U.S. Census Bureau data says that for 2012, the territory recorded 377 business establishments, which generated just over $1.15 million in sales; employed 7,070 paid employees and paid $114.04 million in annual payroll.
 
Included for the first time were figures for capital expenditures which in 2012 totaled $73.4 million. Wentela says businesses invested $32. 9 million in buildings and other structures and $40.6 million in machinery and equipment.
 
“There is $93 million in depreciation charges [in 2012], so we have a little more depreciation going on,” he said and noted that the new data for capital expenditures will provide more complete input to the calculation of the gross domestic product (GDP) for American Samoa.
 
According to the Census official, capital expenditures include government enterprises, such as utilities and the hospital, but he didn’t immediately have on hand the total amount of capital expenses from the government’s side. Wentela says he can look into getting information on this issue.
 
He also pointed out that there is no government census for American Samoa although there is census of government done in the U.S., adding that a local government census, “is something that I would like to do going forward. We just have to find the funding, that’s all.”
 
He quickly acknowledged that he plans to look for funding sources for an American Samoa government census and “this could be something coming down the road.”
 
As for the new capital expenditures data, Wentela says “this will be a little more interesting tracking in the future, when we have additional data points, that we can [review] whether or not there is more business investment going on, or less”.
 
He reiterated that it’s “very difficult to review the data” on capital expenditures without previous records with which to make a comparison, and also difficult to validate the data without any other source of statistics for validation, other than the companies providing the data.
 
“So it’s very difficult to validate the data... but we did the best we could,” he pointed out.
 
Other highlights or findings from the 2012 Economic Census is that over half of the businesses are owned by U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals and these businesses account for almost half of the private sector employment.
 
(Samoa News should point out that while the census data points to over half the local businesses being owned by U.S. citizens or nationals, it does not indicate the percentage of ones that are operated by non- U.S. citizens or nationals, under a business license saying the owners are U.S. citizens or nationals. Owners and operators are not differentiated. )
 
Additionally, businesses received 42.7% of their revenue from household consumers and individuals, while 12.0% of their revenues came from sales to government bodies.
 
The economic census also includes information by district, county, industry, class of customer, ownership, size of business, and payroll.
 
In a prepared press statement, Wentela thanked the local business community for their cooperation in providing requested information for the census and said that all private sector data is being treated as confidential information.
 
“The accuracy of economic reports relies heavily on the availability of information and the cooperation of the business community. This particular census had a response rate of approximately 90%,” he said, and also thanked the local Chamber of Commerce and the Statistics Division of the local Commerce Department for their cooperation.
 
First details of the census were printed in yesterday’s edition of Samoa News. See tomorrow’s edition for other information from Mentela's presentation.



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