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FYI: As the House passed its welfare reauthorization bill yesterday, featuring added work requirements and a “superwaiver” giving states passes on most remaining federal regs, the Department of Health and Human Services wrapped up a week of data releases making the case for welfare-to-work. Yesterday morning, HHS published caseload figures for 2002: The total number of recipients dropped for the sixth straight year, this time by 6.2 percent to just under five million–around 693,000 of which were in New York. That means the caseload has dropped 59.2 percent since the 1996 overhaul of public assistance programs. The number of families receiving TANF benefits dropped 3.9 percent to just over two million–a 54 percent decline since 1996. On Tuesday, HHS also gave its annual TANF report to Congress, citing a slight decline in the number of welfare recipients working in 2001 but an overall increase in average monthly pay, to $686. Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Wade Horn called the stats proof that welfare-to-work thrives even in a slow economy. [2/13/03]

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