Welfare chief says caseloads will grow as economy improves

LANSING, MI – The director of the Michigan Department of Human Services says he expects public assistance caseloads to continue hitting record levels for the next two years.

But Michigan is also expected to start regaining some of the jobs that have been lost over the past 10 years.

Anemic job growth in 2011 will still be a welcome change from a decade of job losses. But Human Services Director Ismael Ahmad says it will take time for people not trained for the new generation of jobs to learn the work skills they will need. Unemployment is expected to remain high, and Ahmad says recovering jobs will only slow the rate of growth in new applications for food assistance, child care, Medicaid, and other types of public assistance.

"We expect continued large record-breaking numbers over the next two years," Ahmad says.

Ahmad says caseloads have more than doubled this past decade, and a third of Michigan residents will likely rely on some type of public assistance by the end of 2012. He says the biggest growth in new applications is from suburban communities.