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With the exception of Mexico, more U.S. dollars from friends, relatives being wired to Latin America

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Immigrants from Latin American now residing in the United States are sending more money back home than ever before. With the exception of Mexico, the amount of U.S. immigrants sending money back home to South and Central America has more than doubled since 2000. The amount has increased substantially since the end of the Great Recession.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In fact, remittances from private parties have far outpaced foreign aid in lifting people out of poverty in Latin America.

In a study released last week by Pew Research Center, remittances in 2011 totaled $53.1 billion, more than eight times the amount of official aid.

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More than half of those immigrating from Spanish-speaking countries, 54 percent, send part of their U.S. earnings home, and 17 percent of U.S.-born Latinos also maintain financial lifelines to relatives abroad.

The U.S. housing crisis that began in 2007 started taking a toll on immigrant workers' largesse. The report utilized World Bank data from 2000 to 2013. Since the housing crash, the amount of remittances have risen steadily annually in the first half of the last decade.

Researchers say that remittances dropped precipitously during the following two years, when construction and labor jobs dried up and the arrival of immigrants, versus the number departing the United States, which shrank to nearly nothing.

Money transfers to the 17 Latin American countries surveyed have picked up over the last four years, on course to reach $53.8 billion by the end of this year. But that figure remains 13 percent below the pre-recession peak of $61.6 billion in 2007.

The recession's effect in Mexico has been even more lingering, with this year's expected remittance intake of $22 billion still down 29 percent from the 2006 peak. The decline apparently reflects the drop in Mexican immigration to the United States.

Other facts and figured revealed by the study is the fact that the U.S. is the most important source of remittances to Latin America, accounting for three-quarters of last year's $52.9 billion total.

Spain was the second-largest provider of money to Latin America, contributing eight percent, or $4 billion, followed by Canada, where Latino immigrants sent home one percent of the regional total, or $704 million.

The majority of the remittances were used on the essentials, such as food and clothing. This allowed for rising living standards for recipients, but left little for job-creating investment.

Remittances accounted for the highest percentage of GDP in El Salvador at 16.5 percent, Honduras at 15.7 percent and Guatemala at 10 percent.

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