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Fewer Mexicans leaving to seek jobs

Mark Stevenson Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – Migration from Mexico, mainly to the United States, has fallen dramatically as fewer Mexicans leave their country to look for work abroad amid a global economic downturn, the government said Thursday.

The net outflow of Mexicans – both legal and illegal – declined by over 50 percent in the 12 months ending in August 2008, compared the same period a year earlier, said the Eduardo Sojo, president of the board of Mexico’s National Statistics, Geography and Information Institute.

Sojo attributed the net drop in migration to tough economic conditions abroad motivating Mexicans to stay at home, rather than Mexicans in other countries returning to their homeland.

“There is declining tendency of people going abroad, but we have not detected, up to now, any increase in people returning to the country,” Sojo said.

Sojo also said a recent survey of “leading indicators” suggests that the number of Mexicans planning to emigrate in the future is also dropping. He did not provide details of that survey.

He said the net outflow of Mexicans – those leaving the country minus those returning from abroad – dropped to 204,000 people between August 2007 and August 2008. That was down from 455,000 for the year ending in August 2007.

The number of returning Mexicans was roughly the same over the two periods, declining slightly to 450,000 by late 2008, from 478,000 in the 2007 period.

But the number leaving Mexico fell sharply to 654,000 from 933,000.

The government has said in past years that a majority who leave are undocumented migrants. Its figures are estimates based on quarterly surveys of Mexican households carried out by the institute.

Despite anecdotal reports of migrants returning to Mexico because of the downturn in the U.S. economy and construction sector, experts say the new statistics confirm there has been no large-scale homecoming in Mexico. An estimated 11.8 million Mexicans now live in the U.S.

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