Guam economy begins bouncing back with federal aid
On March 13, 2020, when the global pandemic first started, Guam was affected like every other nation and territory in the world. Guam’s tourism-dependent economy fell apart as people stopped traveling to avoid catching COVID-19. By the end of 2020, the economy had shrunk around 18.9% even with federal pandemic aid. Now, almost two years later, the economy is starting to rise again after billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief and recovery funding shielded Guam from an economic depression.
After the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was enacted on March 27, 2020, to distribute coronavirus relief funds, Guam was given $117.9 million. Guam Governor Leon Guerrero (D) set aside $20 million for small businesses so that businesses and workers were able to keep their families and businesses afloat as they applied for direct federal and loan grants. Tourist businesses, one of Guam’s most important industries, were left out of the available grants but did have opportunities to apply for the Guam Economic Development Authority-administered $50 million Local Employers’ Assistance Program.
While 2020 may have been a year of despair, Guam slowly began to recover during 2021 because of federal aid. This year, Guam’s government never even missed payroll and collected $62 million more than it projected for fiscal 2021. With federal aid, Guam was able to vaccinate 75% of its adult population, which paves the way for recovery as more people will feel comfortable returning to a somewhat normal life. Additionally, as more and more people around the world get vaccinated, they start to feel comfortable going on vacations. The tourism industry reliant on these vacationers will then start pumping money back into the economy in hopes for an even better fiscal year in 2022.