What’s the most useful job skill that welfare clients are now learning? How to struggle with bureaucracy.

According to stats recently released by the Independent Budget Office, only 29 percent of the people on welfare in the city were working or doing work assignments as of December 1999.

Instead, almost as many clients–a full 22 percent–were in the midst of fighting with the welfare administration to get their benefits restored. Other city data shows that of the disputes that go to hearing, only 18 percent get decided in favor of the welfare department.

Welfare recipients usually get their benefits cut when they fail to show up for a job or workfare, but many complain that the welfare agency often cuts people off arbitrarily.