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August 23, 2000

Illinois Ranks Number One Among Large States in Welfare to Work Participation Rates

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced Illinois ranks number one among the nation's 10 most populous states in meeting 1999 federal welfare to work participation requirements.

For 1999, the welfare reform law required states to have adults in at least 35 percent of all families working at least 25 hours a week and at least 90 percent of two-parent families working at least 35 hours a week.

"This report is clear evidence that Illinois' welfare reform policies are working," Ryan said. "I would like to commend those families who are working towards self-sufficiency and creating a chance for a better life. It is important that we continue to work at moving more individuals from welfare to work."

While Illinois ranks first among the most populous states, Illinois ranks fourth overall among the 50 states, with more than 60 percent of the welfare caseload working compared to the national average of 38 percent. For two-parent families, Illinois' work participation rate was 92 percent while the national average was 55 percent. The information is contained in the Department of Health and Human Services Third Annual Report to Congress.

Among the most populous states, Illinois' overall 1999 work participation rate of 60.4 percent ranked above Michigan (43.8 percent), New York (36.3 percent), Texas (27.3 percent), Ohio (53.7 percent), California (42.2 percent), Florida (31.6 percent), Minnesota (36.9 percent), New jersey (30.3 percent), and Pennsylvania (16.2 percent).

For two-parent families, Illinois ranked ahead of every state except Oregon and Rhode Island.

"We're pleased about this report because it reaffirms that we are doing the right thing for families," said DHS Secretary Linda Renee' Baker. "Using our resources for critical supports such as child care, transportation, employment and training, and domestic violence, mental health and substance abuse services ensures that when parents begin working they will be able to keep that job and improve their financial situation."

More than 143,000 Illinois families have worked their way off welfare since July 1997. Illinois' current available-to-work Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANIF) caseload is 60,841, a 57 percent reduction since the federal Welfare Reform Act went into effect July 1, 1997.


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