Mexico migrant money declines 2.2 percent
Money sent home by Mexican migrants declined by 2.2 percent in the first six months of 2008, the first sustained drop in more than a decade, Mexico's Central Bank reported Wednesday.
The downturn in U.S. housing construction and stepped-up U.S. immigration raids have made it tougher for migrants to find jobs, and less able to send home money, the AP reported.
Jesus Cervantes, director of economic measurement for the bank, said year-end figures are expected to continue this trend - the first sustained drop since 1995, when Mexico's central bank began keeping a tally.
Money sent home by Mexican migrants - also known as remittances - is the country's second-largest legal source of foreign income, after oil exports. And for years, it contributed to a growing Mexican economy: Annual remittances nearly tripled from about US$9 billion in 2001 to almost US$24 billion in 2007, amid improved reporting methods and an exodus of migrants from Mexico.
Now, businesses in many Mexican towns that came to rely on the cash flow are now being forced to scale back - also because of the decline of the U.S. dollar, which has lost almost 8 percent of its value against the Mexican peso this year.
Agustin Escobar, an analyst with the Center for Investigations and Superior Studies in Social Anthropology, said Mexico's overall economy should withstand these pressures, but some families will be hit hard.
"It depends on the type of household," Escobar said. "For households that are largely dependent on remittances, their poverty is going to be felt sharply."