Remittances - money sent by Bulgarian migrants to family members back home - have hit a new high, despite the global downturn, data from the central bank shows.
In May the net sum of the remittances from Bulgarians permanently working abroad totaled EUR 78.2 M, a record-high level of transfers since the Bulgarian National Bank started collecting data back in 2004.
The value of migrant remittances in May exceed by 40% the amount of foreign direct investments that entered Bulgaria's economy for the same period (EUR 46.5 M).
The increase in the amount of remittances from Bulgarians working abroad has been firm over the last few years. Total funds transferred to Bulgaria annually have gone up from EUR 693.90 M in 2008 to a whopping EUR 759.6 M in 2010 and EUR 774 M in 2011.
Studies show that the actual money sent home are about 30-40% higher that the official figures.
The trend is a striking exception to the global pattern for a decline in the number of people going to work abroad since the start of the global downturn and the amount of remittances they send.
Remittances from migrant workers are a lifeline to large sections of the Bulgarian economy, particularly the retail trade and the housing market.
Experts say the rise in the the cash brought back to Bulgaria have a positive impact on the Bulgarian economy and expand people's spending.
According to the World Bank, Bulgaria has one of the highest proportions of its population working abroad of any country in the world and remains one of Europe's biggest recipients of remittances.
Approximately 1,2 million Bulgarians are currently based abroad, equal to 16% of the population, according to official figures. The actual number is believed to be much higher.
The biggest Bulgarian communities are based in Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania and Turkey.
According to a survey by the Bulgarian National Bank, conducted at the beginning of the year, only 50% of migrant workers send money to relatives in Bulgaria. The others admit they are not able to help financially their families here even though they are permanently employed.