What do New York City’s rising welfare numbers mean? Some see the 4.4 percent rise in January’s cash-assistance roll over the previous year (a number that itself was was 3.5 percent higher than the year before) as an indicator that Mayor Bill de Blasio is overseeing a return to the days of deep dependency. They’re especially alarmed that it’s happening despite a falling unemployment rate and rising numbers of new jobs in the city.
Others wonder if there is any cause for alarm. After all, the number of people receiving cash assistance is still well below where it was even during the early Bloomberg years. And with the city’s poverty rate still stuck at a relatively high level, and unemployment in three boroughs higher than the state or national average, it could be that de Blasio’s welfare system is just doing a better job responding to need than Mayor Bloomberg’s did.