MEXICAN WORKERS REMIT MORE DOLLARS DESPITE COVID PANDEMIC
Experts who predicted that Mexican migrant workers in the US would wire home less money as the virus hammered the American economy have been proven wrong, Suman Naishadham reported for the Associated Press (AP) late on October 3, 2020.
In August, their payments amounted to $3.57 billion, according to the Bank of Mexico, the second-highest level on record for a single month and 5.3% above August 2019. Payments in the first eight months of 2020 ballooned to $26.4 billion, up 9.4% compared with the same period last year.
The enormous sums of money moving south, most through electronic transfers, have puzzled some economists, who say their original forecasts underestimated the strength of “human networks” between Mexican migrants in the U.S. and their families back home. They also say the rise has been driven by a weakened Mexican peso and the $600-a-week U.S. unemployment benefit that expired at the end of July. Despite that, the surge continued in August. “We are honestly very surprised at their resilience,” Jonathan Fortun, an economist at the Institute of International Finance in Washington, said about the payments.
Money coming from families in the US has long been a lifeline in Mexico. The payments are critical to low-income families for expenses like food and clothing. They also cover medical needs, pay off debts and fund investments like homes. In 2019, remittances reached a record $36 billion, according to central bank data — more than what Mexico earned that year from foreign tourism or annual petroleum exports. And they’re on pace to exceed that this year. Most of the money came from the US, home to an estimated 37 million people of Mexican origin.