President Clinton Will Announce Record Numbers of People on Welfare are Working as...

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HHS News Release

Today, three years after enactment of the welfare reform law, President Clinton will announce that all 50 states met the law's overall work requirements in 1998, and nearly four times more of those on welfare are working than when he took office. These are the first work data from every state to be released under the 1996 welfare reform law, and they confirm a growing body of evidence that three years later, record numbers of people are moving from welfare to work. These findings, along with new figures showing caseloads have declined by 6.8 million since the President took office, will be contained in a report transmitted to Congress today. The President will make these announcements at a National Forum convened by The Welfare to Work Partnership, whose companies have hired over 410,000 welfare recipients. At the National Forum, the President will talk to former recipients about their experiences moving from welfare to work, call on business leaders to hire even more people from the welfare rolls, challenge federal, state, and local officials to invest funds in those who need help the most, and warn Congress not to renege on the bipartisan commitment to help states and communities finish the job of welfare reform.

ll 50 States Meeting Overall Work Participation Goals

New data to be released by the President today show that every state and the District of Columbia met the welfare law's overall work requirement for 1998, which requires 30 percent of families to have a parent working at least 20 hours per week. Nationally, 35 percent of all welfare recipients were working in 1998. This is the first full year of work data available under the 1996 welfare reform law (not all states had to report in 1997 and those that did only had to report data for the last quarter). Not all states met the law's two parent work rates, which require 75 percent of two parent families to work: of the forty-one states subject to the rate, 28 met it. These data cover fiscal year 1998 (October 1, 1997 through September 30, 1998).

Four Times More of Those on Welfare Are Working than in 1992

The 1998 data also show that four times more of those on welfare are working than when the President took office. Nationally, the percentage of welfare recipients working rose from 7 percent in 1992 to 27 percent in 1998, with the remainder fulfilling their participation requirements through job search, education, and training. The President began to reform welfare early in his first term, granting waivers to 43 states to require work and encourage personal responsibility, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and the minimum wage to make work pay, and pushing the Congress for nationwide welfare reform legislation which he signed into law in August 1996.

Independent Studies Confirm People are Moving from Welfare to Work

Numerous independent studies also confirm that more people are moving from welfare to work. Results from a new national survey released yesterday by the Urban Institute found 69 percent of recipients had left welfare for work, and 18 percent had left because they had increased income, no longer needed welfare, or had a change in family situation. The report found that women leaving welfare were working at nearly identical rates, types of jobs, and at salaries as other mothers with incomes up to 200 percent of poverty or $32,000 a year for a family of four. A recent General Accounting Office report based on state surveys found that between 63 and 87 percent of adults have worked since leaving the welfare rolls, results similar to state studies funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. At the same time, the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey shows that between 1992 and 1998, the employment rate of previous year welfare recipients increased by 70 percent.

Caseloads Have Fallen to Historic New Lows

New welfare caseload numbers to be released by the President today show the percent of Americans on welfare is at its lowest level since 1967. The welfare rolls have fallen by 48 percent, or 6.8 million, since January 1993, when they stood at 14.1 million. State-by-state numbers show 31 states have had declines of 50 percent or more. A new report by the Council of Economic Advisers, released today, finds that the implementation of welfare reform is the single most important factor contributing to the widespread and continuous caseload declines from 1996 to 1998. CEA estimates that the federal and state program and policy changes implemented as a result of welfare reform account for approximately one-third of the caseload reduction from 1996 to 1998. The strong economy has also played an important role, accounting for approximately ten percent of the decline between 1996 and 1998.

Companies are Hiring from the Welfare Rolls

Over 12,000 businesses of all sizes and industries have joined The Welfare to Work Partnership since its launch in May 1997, and they have already hired an estimated 410,000 people from the welfare rolls. Seventy-six percent of companies have hired former welfare recipients for full-time jobs and the average salary is $17,000 a year. More than 8 in 10 executives have found their new hires are good, productive employees; sixty-five percent of business leaders report that welfare to work hires have the same or higher retention rates than other employees, making welfare to work a smart solution for business. The federal government is also doing its part: as Vice President Gore announced yesterday, the federal government has hired over 14,000 people in dozens of agencies across the U.S., far surpassing the goal of 10,000 hires set in April 1997. The three-day Chicago convention will allow over 2,000 company representatives, federal, state and local officials, and community-based organizations from around the country to participate in over 100 workshops highlighting successful welfare to work strategies they can replicate at home.

More Must Be Done to Help Those Still on the Rolls

The President called on the public and private sector to do more to help those still on welfare move to work and succeed on the job. He urged the companies in The Welfare to Work Partnership to hire even more people from the welfare rolls, challenged federal, state and local officials to invest funds in those who need help the most, and warned Congress not to renege on its bipartisan commitment to help states and communities finish the job of welfare reform.

Congress should honor its bipartisan commitment to welfare reform by resisting proposals to cut the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant created in the 1996 welfare act. At the same time, states should use the resources provided in the welfare reform law and the flexibility provided in the recent welfare reform rules to invest in those who need additional help to leave the welfare rolls and to support working families who have left the rolls succeed in the workforce.

The President also called on Congress to finish the job by enacting his initiatives to help those families with the greatest challenges move from welfare to work and succeed in the workforce, including:

$1 billion to extend the Welfare-to-Work program to help long-term welfare recipients and low-income fathers work and support their families. Welfare-to-Work funds are targeted to those individuals who need the most help, including long-term welfare recipients with low basic skills, substance abuse or poor work history, and are distributed to states and communities based on concentrations of poverty, welfare dependency, and unemployment. Also under the President's proposal, states and communities would use a minimum of 20 percent of their formula funds to provide job placement and job retention assistance to low-income fathers who sign personal responsibility contracts committing them to work, establish paternity, and pay child support. The Administration's reauthorization proposal, which has been endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Counties, is included in H.R. 1482 introduced by Congressman Cardin and S. 1317 introduced by Senator Akaka. The reauthorization would build on the $3 billion Welfare-to-Work program the President secured in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. To date, communities in nearly every state are using Welfare-to-Work funds to help individuals with the greatest challenges, and today the Vice President announced the Department of Labor would release over $100 million in grants to the states of Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and New Jersey.

Significant new funding for child care to help working families meet the cost of child care including: (1) $7.5 billion over five years to expand the Child Care Block Grant, (2) $5 billion over five years in greater child care tax relief, (3) $3 billion over five years in child care quality improvements, (4) a new tax credit for businesses that provide child care services for their workers, and (5) new tax relief for parents who choose to stay at home with their young children. With more parents entering the work force, the need for child care has risen as a critical support to help parents keep their jobs. The 1996 welfare law did provide $4 billion in additional funds to states to provide more care and help improve the quality of programs, but the unmet need remains large. There are approximately 10 million children eligible for federal funded support, yet in 1997, only 1.25 million children received assistance. Ensuring that families who leave welfare for jobs stay employed is one of the next challenges of welfare reform, and reliable, safe, and affordable child care is one of the critical ingredients for parents succeeding in work. Consistent with the Administration's proposals, the new investments in child care have gained bipartisan support in Congress.

Additional welfare-to-work housing vouchers and transportation funds to provide 25,000 more housing vouchers and double Access to Jobs transportation funding from $75 million to $150 million. The welfare-to-work housing vouchers will help families move closer to a job, reduce a long commute, or secure more stable housing that will help them get or keep a job. The Job Access grants will provide funds for communities to provide innovative transportation solutions so welfare recipients and other low income workers can get to work.

Extend both the Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to encourage the hiring and retention of long-term welfare recipients and other disadvantaged individuals.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at
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