NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Welfare Caseloads Rise in Many States

December 21, 2001

Amid the U.S. economic downturn, two-thirds of the states have reported increases in welfare caseloads recently. But there has been a slight decline in cases nationwide, according to a new report from the Center for Law and Social Policy.

  • After years of steep declines in the rolls, 33 states have reported increases between March -- when the economy officially went into recession -- and September.
  • Thirteen states experienced increases in welfare caseloads in the same period in 2000.
  • The states with the largest increases between Sept. 2000 and Sept. 2001 were Nevada, Indiana and West Virginia -- while several large states, including California, posted decreases.
  • But the total number of families receiving welfare subsidies across the country declined by 1 percent between March and Sept. 2001.

Welfare reform has been acclaimed a great success since it was enacted in 1996. Welfare rolls plunged from a 1994 peak of 14.3 million people to 5.4 million in March 2001.

Source: Kathy Chen, "After Years of Declines, Welfare Rolls Rise in 33 States Amid Persistent Recession," Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2001.

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