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Clinton Lauds Shrinking Welfare Rolls

He'll also speak at another fund-raiser during a St. Louis visit today


ST. LOUIS, Mo. (AllPolitics, Aug. 12) -- President Bill Clinton announced a dramatic drop in the number of people on welfare rolls during a speech at a welfare-to-work event today.

Clinton, who urged companies to hire welfare recipients, said there has been a decline of almost 3.4 million recipients between January 1993 through May 1997. It's a 24 percent drop, the largest decrease in welfare rolls in history and results in the lowest percentage of the population on welfare since 1970.

About 1.4 million of the drop in welfare recipients has occurred since Clinton signed the welfare reform law one year ago.

Clinton visited St. Louis to highlight the Welfare to Work Partnership, a not-for-profit entity he created to encourage business firms to hire people off welfare.

"The most important thing we can do is get the private sector to hire people," Clinton said, after touring MID.TEC, a training facility for former welfare recipients.

Clinton noted that because the new federal welfare law requires people to find work in two years, "we, the rest of us, have a moral obligation to make sure there is a job there."

In the audience was Rep. Dick Gephardt, who opposed the federal welfare law and the new balanced budget package.

Data to be released by the White House later today shows that welfare caseloads have declined in 48 of the 50 states with 10 of the states reducing their rolls by 40 percent or more in the last four years.


With the St. Louis visit, Clinton hopes to highlight companies that have responded to his call to hire welfare recipients. About 750 companies have joined the president's partnership, although actual hiring has been spotty so far.

Eli Segal, the partnership's director, told The Associated Press the effort needs to move quickly, while the economy is robust and unemployment is at a 25-year low. An AP survey in May of the nation's largest firms showed that only a handful had welfare-to-work efforts underway.

During his visit, Clinton also will speak at a Democratic Business Council luncheon expected to raise $250,000 for Democratic candidates.

CNN's Carl Rochelle contributed to this report.

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