Need For Welfare Is On The Rise

The number of Mississippians relying on food stamps and welfare is increasing. And Department of Human Services chief Janice Broome Brooks says the agency's staff is decreasing.

Records show Mississippi's food stamp and welfare rolls increased 11.7 percent from March 2001 to March 2002.

In January, the state's unemployment rate was at its highest in the past year and a half at 6.9 percent.

In February, DHS's Division of Economic Assistance had 279 staff vacancies, including 139 eligibility workers and 24 case managers. Brooks says some staff members work after hours and on weekends.

She says the unexpected increase in welfare and food stamps recipients will not put a strain on the agency's budget. She says the state has an $86 million annual Temporary Aid to Needy Families grant.