Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Number on Welfare at Lowest in 35 Years

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Number on Welfare at Lowest in 35 Years

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Welfare rolls are half what they were four years ago, and the percentage of Americans on welfare is at its lowest level in 35 years, President Clinton said Tuesday.

"In four short years, we have seen a new emphasis on work and responsibility, as welfare recipients themselves have risen to the challenge and made welfare what it was meant to be -- a second chance, not a way of life," Clinton said in a statement issued at the White House.

In a report released on the fourth anniversary of the welfare changes being signed into law, the Clinton administration said all states have met the law's requirements.

The percentage of Americans on welfare has fallen from 5.5 percent when Clinton took office in 1993 to 2.3 percent in 1999, and is now at its lowest level since 1965, the White House said. Welfare rolls have shrunk from 14.1 million households in January 1993 to 6.3 million in December 1999 -- a drop of 56 percent or 7.8 million households.

Nearly three-fourths of the overall decline occurred since the new welfare law was enacted, with 1999 caseloads roughly half what they were in 1996, the White House said.

Clinton met at the White House Tuesday with top corporate executives who issued their own progress report on welfare.

The nation's welfare system was dramatically improved by the overhaul, but poor people entering the work force need help with child care, transportation and training, the business executives said. Their report added that former welfare recipients have made "good, productive employees."

Job retention rates for those workers meet and often exceed those for employees who haven't been on welfare, according to the report.

But the executives say government programs are still needed to help welfare recipients get jobs, citing child care and transportation as the "biggest obstacles to work."

"Lawmakers should sustain or, ideally, increase resources for a range of programs that help former welfare recipients stay on the job," the report says. …

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