American Samoa is a self-governing US territory, and while the US has control over the archipelago, its people are not considered US citizens. This means that although they remain under US control, they have very little representation within the US government. Although they lack representation in the federal government, they are able to have control over most domestic affairs. Currently, 90% of the land is communally owned and the economy is reliant on Tuna exports which are linked to the US.
While they do have some level of self-government, they still receive economic help as a US territory. On November 15, 2021, The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed into law. While many focused on how this bill would affect US citizens, few focused on what this bill meant for American Samoa.
The benefits of this act included funding to rebuild roads and bridges, improve public transportation, and more. This is incredibly significant because “infrastructure in American Samoa has suffered from a systemic lack of investment.” Not only that, but because of the pandemic, the economy suffered as well due to a number of restrictions that were put in place. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is meant to help some of the problems caused by COVID and problems prior such as natural disasters.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, we can expect to see updates regarding American Samoas’ GDP this summer. This will provide a limited view into how the act affects the economy of American Samoa. Many parts of the funding will be spread out over five years so it will be important to keep an eye on these metrics as the funding is distributed.
Another important factor to look at will be the unemployment rate as the act is meant to increase infrastructure which by association increases jobs. According to the most recent data from the World Bank the unemployment rate is around 9.2% so we can use that to measure the effects of the act in the upcoming years.
While American Samoa does have control over most of its domestic affairs, that doesn’t mean that they are not still affected by US legislation. We will be able to see this impact with the effects of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over the next five years and can monitor accordingly by reviewing things like GDP and unemployment rates.
I live in American Samoa, and any program that brings job opportunities is a plus. A lot of the infrastructure here could use improvement. As of July 2022, there have been no announcements of any activities related to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.