Growth of Worker Remittances Back to Mexico Slows to Trickle
Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Remittances to Mexico - the money Mexican workers in the U.S. send back home - barely rose in the first half of this year, breaking a streak of phenomenal growth and raising the prospect that Mexico's second-largest source of foreign income is stagnating.
From 2003 to 2006, remittances averaged nearly 20 percent growth per year. That fell to less than 1 percent for the first six months of this year, compared with the first half of last year, according to a Migration Policy Institute report that based its data on Bank of Mexico figures.
Remittances fell 4 percent in June this year, compared with June 2006, though July's numbers rebounded at 4 percent more than July 2006.
The cause of the drop is not clear, and could range from more accurate accounting methods to a decline in housing construction, which means fewer jobs for both legal immigrants and illegal aliens.
Remittances are second only to oil sales as a source of foreign income for Mexico, and because they usually go directly from workers to families at the low end of the economic scale, a slowdown could become a pressing issue for Mexican officials, said Aaron Terrazas, the report's author.
"Remittances are clearly important for the Mexican economy, but more important, they're important for Mexican families," he said. "Remittances are not something that goes to governments; they're not something that goes to big development projects. They traditionally go to families to pay for education and pay for necessities. …