On August 22, 1996 President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. The president emphatically stated that this moment should be "remembered not for what it ended but for what it began, a new day that offers hope, honors responsibility, rewards work, and changes the terms of the debate." (President Clinton's remarks at the signing ceremony August 22, 1996, taken from the White House web page)

The new law was a result of bipartisan efforts to significantly alter our nation's pre-existing welfare system into one that promotes work, while providing time-limited assistance. Welfare reform calls for strict work requirements, incentives for states to effectively move recipients into the workforce, regulated maintenance of state efforts, and support for families moving from welfare to work. The support ensures medical coverage, child care provisions, and greater child support enforcement.


May 27, 1998

On the first anniversary of his administration's welfare-to-work initiative, President Bill Clinton once again called on businesses to hire more people from the welfare rolls.

clinton"The Welfare to Work Partnership was based on the simple premise that now that we have passed the welfare reform law, which required all able-bodied people who could work to work, we had a moral obligation as a society to provide a job to all those people who were about to lose their guaranteed benefits for idleness," Clinton said Wednesday in the White House's East Room.

The president touted the partnership's placement success, with 135,000 welfare recipients hired by U.S. companies over the last year. Seventy percent of those are full-time employees with health benefits.

The 1996 welfare reform bill required welfare recipients to find jobs. The welfare rolls have dropped by historic numbers in almost every state, but many have not been able to meet their goal of having 75 percent of people who had been receiving aid in jobs or job training.

"Today, there are fewer than nine million people on welfare -- 3.3 percent of the population -- the lowest percentage of the population on welfare since 1969," Clinton said, but he urged American businesses to help improve those statistics by hiring more.

"First, we have to find more private-sector jobs," Clinton said. "I would like to ask the Welfare To Work Partnership in 1998 to double the number of people they hire and to double the number of companies that are participating."

The president said hiring people from welfare is good business too. "This is not just good for America and not just good for these families; it's also turned out to be good for the businesses involved, many of whom find that these new workers stay on the job longer, with less turnover and later work to motivate their co-workers," Clinton said.

The Welfare to Work Partnership launched a year ago with 100 member companies, and a goal of increasing that number to 1,000 by this year. "We underestimated by a factor of five; there are now more than 5,000 companies in this partnership," Clinton said.