NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Revitalizing The Work Ethic In N.Y.C.

February 3, 1999

New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) inherited a massive welfare problem when he took office in January 1994.

  • At that time, more than one-seventh of the city's population -- 1.16 million people --were on welfare rolls.
  • Between 1960 and 1968 -- at a time of great prosperity -- the rush to get on welfare escalated, with those enrolled jumping from 250,000 to more than 800,000.
  • Prior to reforms that began in 1994, 80 percent of welfare applicants were admitted to the rolls -- a proportion which has now dropped to 50 percent.
  • Since then, welfare offices have been converted into job centers -- complete with financial and employment planners who help applicants overcome barriers to work and get a job.

Over the past four years, New York City has moved 440,000 people off welfare -- more than the entire population of St. Louis, Mo.

Giuliani contends, however, that some federal agencies have not updated their rules and regulations to reflect changes in policy and philosophy occasioned by welfare reform.

One example he cites is the Department of Agriculture's insistence that food stamps be made available at job centers and that applicants be encouraged to apply for them on their first visit. New York's welfare reformers are fighting that requirement.

Source: Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, "The Welfare Reform Battle Isn't Over Yet," Wall Street Journal, February 3, 1999.


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