The Inter-American Development Bank says Latin American and Caribbean workers living abroad sent a record $53.6 billion home last year, up 17 percent from 2004.

The IDB presented the figures Thursday at a seminar in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where the bank's Board of Governors holds its annual meeting next month.

The IDB says Mexico is still the leading recipient of those remittances in Latin America, with its expatriates sending more than $20 billion home last year. The figure marks an increase of about 20 percent from 2004.

The bank noted that some 25 million people born in Latin America and the Caribbean have moved abroad and that two thirds of them send money home on a regular basis.

Officials noted, however, that many migrants and their families still remain outside the formal financial system, and that fewer than 10 percent of those residents who receive money transfers have access to bank accounts, credit or home loans.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.