Welfare Rolls Soar Along With Unemployment

Many make shift as jobless benefits run out
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 22, 2009 7:48 AM CDT
Carolina Fuentes talks with a worker at the Sacramento county welfare office, as her daughter, Katherine, 5, waits, in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, June 1, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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(Newser) – Welfare rolls are on the rise nationwide for the first time since President Clinton signed a bill overhauling the system in 1996, the Wall Street Journal reports. Welfare recipients’ ranks fell in some areas at the beginning of the recession, but now 23 of the 30 biggest US states are seeing an increase as residents' unemployment compensation runs out.

States with the highest unemployment rates are seeing the biggest jump in welfare rolls.  Oregon’s numbers have risen 27%, South Carolina’s 23%, and California’s 10%. The number of people on food stamps rises first because qualification is easier; welfare stats signal more entrenched difficulty. It’s “the first real test” for the altered welfare system, said an analyst—and “this is exactly what should happen,” said one involved in the 1996 law.