WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- Tourist destinations like Florida and Nevada are beginning to see a rise in their welfare rolls after years of declines, state officials said.
"When the economy starts to tank, that's when our business starts growing," chief of eligibility for Nevada's welfare agency Jeff Brenn told USA Today.
"This is the first time that we've really seen several consecutive months of increase," Deputy Secretary of Florida's Department of Children and Families Don Winstead said. "People are having more difficulty finding jobs as the economy softens."
Twenty-seven states have reported increases in their welfare rolls in the last half of 2007, USA Today reported Monday.
"The safety net is still here," Kevin McGuire, executive director of Maryland's Family Investment Administration, told the newspaper. "We're probably going to see more business during the next year."
An economic slowdown also pushed welfare numbers in 2001, the report said. But the recent rise is a reversal of more than a decade of declines in welfare recipients.
In 1996, 12 million people were signed up for welfare in the United States. After new rules were adopted to force recipients to find jobs, the number dropped to 3.9 million adults.