Jamaica benefitted from the uninterrupted flow of over US$2 billion per year in remittances from the Diaspora during the COVID-19 pandemic. This influx of money helped to keep the island nation from suffering extreme difficulties during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had serious impacts on economic stability, prompting social disruption to arise in other nations, such as Cuba. The pandemic decimated Jamaica’s tourist sector, but Diaspora remittances filled the gap for the direct recipients of the funds and also as a source of foreign exchange that allowed the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) to operate with confidence and to provide commercial banks with the funding needed to meet demands of capital and consumer goods importers, as well as to keep the exchange rate from getting out of control. Remittances from the Diaspora, which were consistent throughout the worst of the pandemic, were the “lifeblood” of Jamaica’s economy.
From April 2020 to December 2020, net remittance inflows totaling US$175.0 million rose by 31.9 percent (US$526.1 million) relative to the same period in 2019. The BOJ reported in November of 2020 that in spite of the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamaicans who lived overseas sent more money to their friends and families on the home island.