The five-year economic census of the U.S. Virgin Islands released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals no surprises – by any standard the territory’s economy suffered when the Hovensa closed in 2012.
The bureau conducts the economic census every five years and, by chance, the period covered by the latest study began in 2007 – when the V.I. economy was riding high and just before the worldwide economic slump – through 2012.
And those numbers reveal just what anyone would expect – the territory had fewer businesses in 2012 than it had in 2007, and those businesses generated only about a third of the revenue and employed fewer people than were employed in 2007.
According to a public information officer at the Census Bureau, the data was collected in 2013 to cover the five-year period of the study.
The report said that from 2007 to 2012, the number of business with paid employees in the territory dropped from 2,583 to 2,414 in 2012; the number of employees fell from 35,300 to 32,465; and, most tellingly, the amount of revenue generated by those business tumbled from $19.5 billion to $6.8 billion, only a third of its 2007 high point.
Between 2007 and 2012, sales declined by $12.6 billion or 64.9 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
It wasn’t entirely gloomy news for the territory. The study showed an increase in employment in the professional, scientific and technical services sector with 2,108 paid employees in 2012, up 738 employees from 1,370 in 2007.
Researchers also reported an increase in the number of businesses owned by women. In 2012, there were 311 women-owned establishments, up from 271 in 2007 (a 14.8 percent increase). The sales and receipts for women-owned businesses increased 19.9 percent to $247.4 million, from $206.3 million in 2007.
In other findings, the bureau reported:
– In 2007 the U.S. Virgin Islands had 109 businesses with 50 or more employees, representing 4.2 percent of all businesses, and they accounted for 83.9 percent ($16.3 billion) of total sales. By 2012 the end of those numbers had fallen to 87 businesses with 50 or more employees, representing 3.6 percent of all businesses, accounting for 54.8 percent ($3.7 billion) of total sales.
– The manufacturing sector accounted for 28.7 percent of total sales in 2012, the most of any sector. Sales totaled $2 billion. The manufacturing industry employed 1,984 people and reported $168 million in payroll.
– Retail trade ranked second among sectors in share of sales, accounting for 19.3 percent of total sales in 2012. The sector had sales of $1.3 billion, employed 6,596 people and had $142 million in payroll.