August 22, 2000

August 22, 2000


Four years ago today, President Clinton signed the landmark welfare reform law, transforming the nation's welfare system into one that requires work for time-limited assistance. Today, the President will announce that welfare rolls are just half of what they were four years ago and, of those remaining on welfare, nearly five times as many are working than when he took office. The Administration will transmit a report to Congress today showing that for the third year in a row, all states subject to the welfare reform law's overall work requirements, met them.

The President will also meet with the Board of the Welfare to Work Partnership, which announced today that it has enlisted more than 20,000 business partners who have hired an estimated 1.1 million welfare recipients since it was launched at the White House in May 1997. The President will challenge the private sector to continue employing welfare recipients and helping these new workers succeed on the job; urge state and local officials to invest in supports for both current recipients and low-income working families; and call on Congress to enact his budget proposals to make work pay, encourage savings, promote responsible fatherhood and expand access to child care, housing, transportation and health care.

Caseloads Fall to 35-Year Low New welfare caseload numbers to be released by the President today show the percentage of Americans on welfare has fallen from 5.5 percent in 1993 to 2.3 percent in 1999 and is now at its lowest level since 1965. The welfare rolls have fallen from 14.1 million in January 1993 to 6.3 million in December 1999 - a drop of 56 percent, or 7.8 million. Nearly three-quarters of this overall decline has occurred since the welfare reform law was enacted, with 1999 caseloads roughly half of what they were in 1996. A 1999 report by the Council of Economic Advisers found that the implementation of welfare reform was the single most important factor contributing to the widespread and continuous caseload declines, accounting for approximately one-third of the caseload reduction from 1996 to 1998.The President began reforming 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 bipartisan national welfare reform legislation which he signed into law in August 1996.

Fivefold Increase In Work Among Welfare Recipients Since 1992 The combination of requirements, incentives and supports to promote work has not only resulted in more families leaving the welfare rolls, but has also dramatically increased the proportion of parents who are combining welfare and work as they transition off cash assistance. New 1999 data show that the percentage of welfare recipients who are working has increased to nearly five times the level when the President took office - from 7 percent in 1992 to an all-time high of 33 percent in 1999 - and has tripled since the 1996 welfare reform. The vast majority of working recipients are in paid employment, with the remainder involved in community service or subsidized employment.

All 50 States Meet 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 1999, which required adults in 35 percent of all families on welfare to be working at least 25 hours per week. The 1999 national participation rate of 38 percent is up from 35 percent in 1998, a particularly impressive gain given the simultaneous 18 percent caseload decline over this same time period. Most, but not all, states met the law's two parent work rates that required 90 percent of two parent families to work at least 35 hours per week: of the thirty-six states subject to the rate, 28 met it.

Research Confirms That People Are Moving From Welfare To Work A variety of studies cited in the Health and Human Services Report to Congress confirm that an increasing number of families are moving from welfare to work. Interim findings from ten studies funded by HHS found that 62 to 75 percent of former welfare recipients were employed for some or all of the 12 months following their exit from welfare. Moreover, recent independent evaluations ranging from Minnesota to Los Angeles to Connecticut confirm that well-designed welfare reform initiatives have significantly increased the employment of welfare recipients. The Minnesota results also show that welfare reform can increase marriage rates and marital stability among low-income families. According to the Current Population Survey, 36 percent of those receiving welfare in 1998 were working in 1999 - an 82 percent increase from 1992 when just twenty percent of 1991 recipients were working.

Welfare To Work Hiring Initiatives Show Overwhelming Progress The Welfare to Work Partnership has responded enthusiastically to the President's challenge to the business community to get involved in ending welfare as we know it. Since its launch at the White House in May 1997 with 105 companies, the Partnership has grown to more than 20,000 businesses of all sizes and industries, which have hired an estimated 1.1 million people from the welfare rolls. Business leaders have found that welfare to work hires have the same or higher retention rates than other employees. In a new report to the President, the Partnership notes that average starting salaries for these hires is $7.80 an hour or $19,641 a year for those earning a salary. The federal government is also doing its part: under Vice President Gore's leadership, the federal government has hired nearly 50,000 people in dozens of agencies across the U.S., far surpassing the goal of 10,000 hires set in 1997.

More Must Be Done to Reward Work and Responsibility President Clinton will challenge the private sector to continue to hire those welfare recipients remaining on the rolls and to help these new workers succeed and advance on the job. He will also urge state and local officials to use the resources and the flexibility provided in the reformed welfare system to invest in services to help current recipients overcome barriers to work and to help working families who have left the rolls succeed in the workforce. Finally, he will call on Congress to enact key components of the Clinton-Gore Administration's FY 2001 budget, including:

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