REMITTANCES from overseas Filipino workers coursed through banks rose 8.5 percent to $1.4 billion in January from a year ago, supported by the continued deployment of workers abroad, said the central bank yesterday.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. said remittances from sea-based workers rose 18.1 percent, while remittances from land-based workers grew 6.3 percent.

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Remittances from the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Italy and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) accounted for the bulk or 81.1 percent of the total inflows reported by local banks.

“In particular, remittances from the US grew by 5.1 percent after posting consecutive declines since January 2009,” buoyed by signs that the US economy was recovering, the Bangko Sentral said in its website.

Not all the US remittances necessarily came from US-based workers, though.

The BSP explained that remittance data from the United States include remittances sent from remittance centers in other cities abroad that are coursed through correspondent banks mostly located in the United States.

“Since banks attribute the origin of funds to the most immediate source, the US, therefore appears to be the main source of overseas Filipino remittances,” the BSP said.

The central bank attributed the steady remittance flows at the start of the year to the continued demand for professional and skilled Filipino overseas workers, particularly

in the health care, education and services sectors.

According to the BSP, the Department of Labor and Employment anticipates that “work prospects for Filipino overseas workers will continue to be favorable, given the expected opening of new job markets and more opportunities for better-paying work in the next five to 10 years.”

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration supported this expectation by reporting that almost 19 percent of the total approved job orders of 98,845 for the first two months of the year had been processed.

In particular, processed job orders were strong for service, production, and professional, technical and related occupations to meet the manpower requirements of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Taiwan and Qatar.

Also helping to facilitate the flow of remittances to the country was the expanding global network of remittance service providers created through tie-ups with foreign financial institutions, and the establishment of remittance centers and marketing offices abroad, the BSP said.