SMALL STAT SURPRISE

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Recently, when he presented the Mayor’s Management Report, Rudy Giuliani got yet another blue-ribbon opportunity to trumpet declining welfare rolls. But the most recent numbers from the Human Resources Administration tell a different story: After years of consistent declines, the caseload actually inched up a bit in January.

The public assistance numbers have fallen steadily, from over a half-million cases in 1995 to only 286,199 by December 1999. But January saw an uptick, to 289,964. Most of the increase stemmed from a 1,400-person jump in the number of single adults on the rolls.

Since it’s only a small and short-term change, HRA number-crunchers don’t consider it significant, said spokesperson Ruth Reinecke. Many of the new cases were what HRA calls “immediate need”–people who need help right away with their rent or utilities. “It could possibly have some relation to the season,” she added.

The number of New Yorkers getting food stamps and Medicaid have continued to decline.