©2016 Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Engler Releases Figures: Over 80 Percent of Welfare Recipients Still Working One Year Later

Monday, March 09, 1998

Jim Tobin
(517) 335-4590

Governor John Engler today unveiled new figures which show that more than 80 percent of the state's initial Work First graduates were still employed one year after they were originally placed in jobs. "This proves without a doubt, that the best way to keep people off welfare is to get them a job, and we have done that in Michigan," said Governor Engler. "From Southwest Michigan to the Upper Peninsula, we are hearing the success stories of former welfare clients."The report studied the initial 12,601 people who found work during the first year of Work First, the state's welfare-to-work initiative. It found that 10,247 people, or 81.3 percent, were still working 52-weeks later. In order to graduate from Work First a person must work at least 20 hours a week for 90 days."I have always believed that a job was the best way to independence," continued Engler. "Today's numbers mean that more and more people are finding the path to independence that our job program provides."Michigan's Work First program went into effect in October 1994. Under the program, the Michigan Jobs Commission oversees local Michigan Works! Agenciesthat assist participants in their job searches. Part of the placement process involves work readiness testing, job counseling, job skills training, resume writing and more. "Those who argue that jobs aren't the path to independence, but only a short term fix, need to examine these numbers carefully," said Doug Rothwell, CEO and department director of the Michigan Jobs Commission. "Work First graduates are doing a great job continuing down the road to financial security because of one simple act -- they got jobs."During the first quarter studied in this report (those graduating from Work First between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 1994), 11 of the 26 Michigan Works! Agencies reported participants. The report indicated that there were 486 Work First graduates and that one year later 345, or 71 percent of those graduates, were still employed.In the second quarter (those placed from Jan. 1 to March 31, 1995), 20 Michigan Works! Agencies reported participants, with a total of 1,105 graduates. Two agencies reported 100 percent retention after 52 weeks, and the overall retention rate climbed to 80.9 percent, or 894 people who were still employed.By the third quarter (those placed April 1, 1995 - June 30, 1995), all 26 agencies were reporting their successes. A total of 4,421 people graduated, and 3,559, or 80.5 percent were working one year later. In the last quarter (those placed in jobs between July 1, 1995 and September 30, 1995), 6,589 people graduated, with 5,449, or 82.7% working one year later.Numbers for the next "class" of Work First participants are expected in the spring.