Clinton Volunteers Federal Jobs for Welfare Recipients

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Trying to put a more positive spin on his promise to place welfare recipients into jobs, President Clinton announced a new initiative to employ 10,000 such workers in the government. While the President takes credit for reducing welfare rolls by 20 percent over the past four years, union leaders have been expressing concern that many of those welfare workers are taking jobs away from low-income union workers, and applauded the new proposal to meet the welfare goals by placing the workers in federal jobs. "The devil is in the details, and we'll look at the details closely," said David Smith, public policy director for the AFL-CIO. "But it seems to be a step in the right direction." While Clinton’s initiative takes the heat off the unions, the jobs are nothing to hang your hat on: some 4,200 will be temporary positions helping the Commerce Department prepare for the 2000 census. Many others will be come through a government trainee program that hires entry-level workers into low-skill positions for $13,000 a year. While nothing to feed a family on, TIME's Jeff McAllister notes that their value lies in the opportunity to build an employment history. "Quite clearly it's not the same as providing substantive jobs, but they're better than nothing, so why not. It plays into something else, such as building a resume."