The Washington Times - February 26, 2013, 10:58AM

Five years ago, 21 percent of Mexicans said they would be willing to move permanently to another country. Now the rate has dropped to 11 percent, the same percentage of Americans who said they would leave their country behind forever.

So says a new Gallup poll released Monday, which indicates that things are getting better south of the border. There’s more work in Mexico now, and more reasons to stay put.

SEE RELATED:


“The official unemployment rate for 2012 according to average monthly unemployment rates was 5 percent,” Gallup notes.

“Meanwhile, Mexico’s economy has rapidly expanded, averaging approximately 4 percent GDP growth over the last three years, compared with 2 percent growth in the U.S. over the same period,” the poll said. In addition, 13 percent of Mexicans described their national economy as “poor,” compared to 36 percent of Americans.

“Mexico is fast becoming one of the largest consumers of U.S. exports valued in dollars, growing 12 percent annually over the past decade,” Gallup said, noting that Mexico buys more goods and services from the U.S. than China does, plus Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy - combined.

There’s still friction, however.

“Mexico has something of an image problem with many Americans, as about one in two Americans have a mostly or very negative opinion (49 percent) of their southern neighbor,” the poll said.

Canadians, meanwhile, enjoy a 91 percent approval rating.

“Mexico has provided the greatest share of new U.S. immigrants in the past 10 years compared with any other country, according to Homeland Security, and this fact has probably had a role in shaping Americans’ negative feelings about Mexico,” Gallup said.

Should the positive economic and immigration trends continue, however, the optimistic pollster predicts that the immigration debate in Congress could become less acrimonious, while U.S. and Mexico “may come to see each other as neighbors, trading partners and, indeed, friends.”