MEXICO CITY—Mexicans working in the U.S. sent record amounts of money to relatives back home last year, illustrating the resilience of the U.S. economy despite the shutdowns imposed to fight the pandemic.
The surge in remittances, which surprised analysts and migrants alike, provided a lifeline for many poorer Mexicans in the midst of the country’s biggest economic slump in decades.
Remittances rose 11% to $36.9 billion in the first 11 months of the year, more than the record $36.4 billion sent in all of 2019, according to figures released this week by Mexico’s central bank. The average remittance was 4.3% higher at $340, the bank said.
In Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras—the Central American countries that make up the Northern Triangle—remittances slumped in April but later rebounded, and were up 3.4% from January through October.
After the pandemic caused U.S. unemployment to surge to double-digit levels earlier this year, the World Bank and others projected that remittances to Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America would fall close to 20% from 2019, threatening a critical source of income for families that rely on the transfers to make ends meet.