Economic Downturn and Weak Dollar Slow Remittances

Analysts predict that 2008 will be the first year in a decade that immigrants will send less wealth back to South America and the Caribbean. WNYC's Marianne McCune reports.

REPORTER: Ever since 2000, analysts at the Inter-American Development Bank have seen double digit increases in remittances to South America and the Caribbean. That started to slow down last year, and this year they project a slight drop, factoring in inflation. In New York, a small increase is projected - but a much smaller one than in previous years.

The development bank says immigrants are sending less back because of economic downturns in the U.S. and in Spain, as well as a weaker dollar; they're also spending more on oil and food. Two years ago, three-quarters of immigrants surveyed by the bank said they were sending money back on a regular basis.

This year, only half said so. The Development Bank says the immigration climate has also played a part - at the start of this decade, about a third of immigrants said discrimination was a problem. This year, two thirds thought so. For WNYC, I'm Marianne McCune.