For the third time in the last four months, the number of Nevada welfare recipients has declined and the state program may end up with a surplus instead of a deficit this fiscal year.
"This is a good sign," said Tami Dufresne, coordinator of research and statistics for the state Welfare Division. But she added the economy is still too unstable to say the drop represents a long-term trend.
Roger Mowbray, budget chief for the division, said the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program could end up with a $4 million surplus by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.
That contrasts with a prediction several months ago that the program would be $6 million to $7 million in the red, Mowbray said.
The Welfare Division said there were 32,478 recipients in September, down 7.2 percent from the previous month. That is still 11,000 more than in the same month of a year ago.
The number of people on Medicaid declined to 160,388, a drop of 1 percent from August. Food stamps recipients dropped 0.39 percent to 100,868 in August.
Gov. Kenny Guinn said the drop in welfare numbers is good news.
"Hopefully this is a sign that Nevadans are getting the relief they need," he said. "This has been a double-edged sword. While our state's economy has suffered, so have more Nevada families than ever."