Latin Americans in U.S. sending less money home, bank says

WASHINGTON — The slumping global economy is slowing the amount of money sent home by migrant workers in the United States, according to a new survey by the Inter-American Development Bank released Monday.

The bank projects that after posting nearly a decade of growth, remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean are likely to decline in 2009.

Remittances sent home in the fourth quarter of 2008 slipped to $17 billion — 2 percent less than in the same period in 2007. Early reports for January suggest a drop as steep as 13 percent.

''This is bad news for millions of people in our region who depend on these flows to make ends meet,'' said bank president Luis Alberto Moreno.

He said the downturn would be the first since the IDB began tracking the money in 2000.

''The prospects of a downturn in remittance to our region is troubling because they are a vital source of income for millions of Latin American and Caribbean families,'' he said. He suggested the decline could lead to a drop in living standards.