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Economic Census Shows Northern Mariana Islands' Economy Generated $1.3 Billion in Sales in 2012

Northern Mariana Islands Economy

The 1,339 business establishments in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands generated $1.3 billion in sales, employed 14,215 people and paid $208.4 million in annual payroll, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 Economic Census of Island Areas: Geographic Area Series for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Every five years, the economic census provides the most authoritative and comprehensive source of information about the entire U.S. economy, including U.S. territories. The 2012 Economic Census statistics for the Northern Mariana Islands and its four municipalities include businesses with paid employees. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a U.S. territory consisting of 14 islands in the western Pacific Ocean.

The Northern Mariana Islands' 2012 statistics are not comparable to those produced from the 2007 Economic Census because of the expansion of the census to cover more of the economy. The additions were in the utilities and transportation sectors, where six government-run establishments were included for the first time.

Excluding these six establishments, the 2012 statistics show 1,333 establishments in the Northern Mariana Islands, up from 1,191 in 2007; $1.2 billion in sales — a decline of 7.3 percent from $1.3 billion in sales for 2007; 13,678 paid employees — a decrease of 39.5 percent from the 22,622 employees in 2007; and $193.2 million in payroll, down 21.5 percent from the $246.1 million in payroll for 2007.

Other findings:

  • The retail trade sector accounted for the most sales in 2012 with $314.1 million, an increase of 15.6 percent from the $271.8 million in sales for 2007. Retail trade employed 2,463 people, a decrease of 11.1 percent from the 2,770 employed in the sector in 2007, while payrolls increased 7.3 percent to $30.7 million (from $28.6 million five years earlier).
  • The largest decreases in sales, payroll and employment, both in dollar amounts and percentages, were in the manufacturing sector. These decreases included a drop of 89.0 percent in sales to $20.9 million in 2012 (from $189.7 million in 2007), a decline of 91.7 percent in employment to 592 in 2012 (from 7,094 in 2007) and a payroll decline of 88.2 percent to $6.7 million (from $56.6 million in 2007).
  • Large employment declines were also seen in the accommodation and food services sector (3,195 in 2012, down from 4,772 in 2007) and in the transportation and warehousing sector (a drop to 641 paid employees from 1,105 five years earlier).
  • The largest employment increases were in the health care and social assistance sector, which had 725 paid employees in 2012 compared with 267 in 2007 and the construction industry with 821 paid employees in 2012, up from 528 in 2007.
  • The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands had 143 businesses with 20 or more employees in 2012, representing 11.1 percent of all businesses. These businesses accounted for 61 percent ($804 million) of total sales. In 2007, 200 businesses had employment of 20 or more, representing 17.1 percent of all businesses, and they accounted for 67.4 percent ($866 million) of total sales.

The statistics for the Northern Mariana Islands are available through the Census Bureau's American FactFinder, an online search tool that allows users to access, filter, manipulate and extract statistics.

Statistics for Guam were also released today. Statistics for American Samoa will be released May 6; the U.S. Virgin Islands statistics will be released July 15; and Puerto Rico statistics will be released between February 2015 and September 2015. More information about the Economic Census of Island Areas is available here.

For information on confidentiality protection, nonsampling error and definitions, see the methodology section at

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: July 15, 2014