Report says territory’s population lives paycheck to paycheck

Spending 98% of our earnings immediately
joyetter@samoanews.com

The Department of Commerce statistics division has issued the final report on the Household Income and Expenditures Survey (HIES) that was conducted in April 2015. In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the DOC says the HIES report will be used to devise a new market basket for the revised consumer prices index of American Samoa.

The report covers a variety of topics on population, housing conditions as well as family income and expenditure and information from the survey providing updates on demographic, social and economic characteristics of the territory, including data on household spending and what families spent their money on.

“The HIES survey estimated a total population of American Samoa in April 2015 of 57,346 with 11,034 housing units, compared to the 2010 Census Count of 55,519 with 10,936 housing units. About five years after the 2010 census the population has increased by 1.917 (a gain of 383 persons everyday or an annual growth rate of 70%). This is more reasonable than the 0.3% annual growth rate after the 2010 census.”

The statement further says that most families live by pay period, meaning “almost all income received by households is spent immediately.” It said all households received a total of $362 million and spent $355 million, leaving only about $7 million.

“Therefore the American Samoa marginal propensity to consume (MPC) is 98%, leaving only 2% for possible savings,” according to the statement. The MPC for many countries is at a 60-70 percentage range.

The statement approved by the DOC Acting Director Keniseli Lafaele, said that of the $355 million spent, 26% was spent on food (the largest category) followed by Housing-  with 24%, and other Goods and Services at 20%.

“The other goods/services category included cultural and religious expenses. Other than Alcoholic Beverage (usually under-reported in any expenditure survey) with 0.4%, the smallest spending category is medical care with only 2% preceded by Education/Communications with 6% and recreation at 5%.”

The statement further notes that culture and religion including remittances amounted to about $50 million and about 82% of all families contributed to churches and religions valued at $16.5million.

Funerals alone amounted to $20 million, with about 64% of all households having funeral expenses. “About 77% of household remitted money valued at about $7 million, other family events and feasts as well as weddings to another $7 million.”

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