MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexicans living abroad sent home a record amount of money in May, topping $4.5 billion in a month for the first time, Mexico’s central bank said Thursday.
Just a year ago, it was considered a record when migrants’ money, known as remittances, broke the $4 billion per month mark in March 2020.
They now regularly send more than $4 billion. Only January and February, traditionally slow months for remittances, fell below that mark this year, with March, April and May setting new records. May is a traditionally high month because of Mother’s Day.
The $19.2 billion sent home in the first five months of 2021 is 21.7% more than during the same period of 2020.
If the pace keeps up, Mexico could be on track to top $45 billion in remittances for the full year in 2021.
As a source of foreign income, remittances earn Mexico more money than oil exports or tourism and are exceeded only by manufacturing exports.
BBVA bank said in an analysis report that the rapid U.S. economic recovery and shortages of workers in some sectors may have helped migrants send more money home. Most Mexican migrants live and work in the United States, where employment opportunities have surged as the coronavirus pandemic eases.
Remittances in Mexico have now set records for five straight years. The $40.6 billion that migrants sent to Mexico in 2020 was equivalent to the combined budgets of the Mexican government’s education, health, labor, welfare and culture departments.
About 98.5% of Mexico’s remittances are sent from the United States, almost all by bank or wire transfers.
Despite a controversial proposal to require the central bank buy all cash dollars that wind up in Mexican banks — a move that would supposedly help migrants — only about 0.7% of remittances enter the country as cash.