Will Welfare Rolls Rise Following Record Low? (City Limits Weekly)

Despite the worsening economy and rising unemployment, the number of people receiving welfare in New York City continues to fall. Do welfare applications just lag behind the economy, or is this a sign that the city needs to be doing more?

The graph from the Human Resources Administration is as remarkable as it is unmistakable: The number of New Yorkers receiving welfare, after peaking in 1995 at more than 1.1 million, plunged steadily to 343,000 at the end of 2008 – the lowest number in 45 years.

It’s a drop that the Bloomberg Administration has cited as a mark of the city’s success at moving people off the welfare rolls, mostly via “work first” policies geared toward getting individuals into paid employment. But as in other states, the falling caseload numbers come at a time of rising unemployment, record homelessness, and after years of soaring patronage of soup kitchens and food pantries… [read more]