Last year, family remittances to Mexico from the United States totaled $36.05 billion, 7% more than the previous year, the highest amount on record. In December of last year alone, it was $3.08 billion.
The figure exceeds the flow of foreign direct investment — about $35 billion, $26 billion of which is oil exports. In addition, there is the income from tourism: last year around $25 billion, representing 2.7% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2018.
In Michoacán, Oaxaca, Zacatecas and Guerrero, remittances are 10% of gross value added. In 2018, according to data from the report that BBVA* presents each year, 83.2% of male Mexican migrants were part of the workforce in the United States. In 2018, the U.S. registered an average unemployment rate of 3.6%. Half of the Mexican migrant women were part of the labor force. Their unemployment rate was 5.5%.
Last week the United States Department of Labor announced that 3.3 million workers had applied for unemployment insurance in one week. It was the highest number in the country’s history, five times higher than the record set in 1982.
We do not know how many of those seeking unemployment are from our country, but surely the total includes some number of them. And of course, immigrants who do not have legal documentation aren’t counted in the totals and have no access to those benefits. At his press conference yesterday, Donald Trump said the coming weeks would be even more difficult.
The crisis in the United States and around the world is and will be, above all, one of unemployment. The impact on our citizens is unpredictable, but it will not be small. Therefore, the impact on remittances and the families who depend on them will be enormous. Just look at what happened during the economic crisis that started in 2008, and that was not an employment crisis like this.
There is no bank transfer program big enough to cover this gap. There will be bad times there for our citizens who have migrated abroad and for their families here.
*Translator’s note: BBVA México is the country’s largest Mexican financial institution.
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