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New York might have more difficulty making the federally mandated welfare-to-work transition than any other place in the country, according to a new report from New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall. “The New York City Economy: Recent Trends and the Labor Market Implications of Welfare Reform,” warns that people booted off welfare in the city are not likely to find work because of chronic slow job growth and high unemployment rates.

If they do find work, the report says, it is likely their jobs will be so low paying that families will wind up making less than when they were on the dole.

“We already have more people looking for jobs than we have jobs,” said McCall spokesperson Joan Lebow.

The Democratic comptroller reports that close to 200,000 New Yorkers formerly on public assistance may soon be in the job market, a labor surplus that will almost certainly drive down wages in a state that ranks 49th in job growth. A Russell Sage Foundation study shows that to employ a mere 30,000 former welfare recipients–without displacing other workers–wages for low-income employees would have to decline by as much as 9 percent statewide.

And McCall adds this sobering point: don’t expect that dumping a few hundred million more into employment training will solve the problem. The $1 billion in job training efforts bankrolled by the state each year are, at best, marginally effective, he said.

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