Although the cost of sending remittances is now much lower than in the late 1990s, the rate of decline has slowed markedly in the past three years.
Across the United States some six million immigrants from Latin America now send money to their families back home on a regular basis. The number of senders and the sums they dispatched grew even when the U.S. economy slowed, and looking to the future, the growth seems likely to continue and potentially to accelerate. The total remittance flow from the United States to Latin America and the Caribbean could come close to $30 billion this year, making it by far the largest single remittance channel in the world.
Central banks across the region are tracking remittance income more carefully which has somewhat boosted the numbers they report. Nonetheless, there seems little doubt that the remittance flow has continued to increase over the past two years even as the U.S. economy dropped from its boom time peaks. In 2000 remittances to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua--nations that receive almost all their money transfers from the United States--totaled some $10.2 billion. This year that figure could reach $14.2 billion or more, a flow of $39 million a day. By 2005 the sum, which does not capture all remittances to Latin America, will go beyond $18 billion, according to projections by the Pew Hispanic Center.