The number of Nevadans receiving welfare checks went down during the past year, but significantly more people are receiving food stamps and Medicaid services.
The numbers released this week are for February. The welfare totals -- Temporary Aid for Needy Families -- have fallen about 2,800 since February 2002 to 30,082. But that total is still well above what it was before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The number of residents receiving food stamps rose more than 10,000 during that same period, from 96,810 to 107,363.
And the total receiving Medicaid payments increased during that 12-month period from 145,708 to 167,354 -- by nearly 20,000.
Welfare administrator Nancy Ford said the problem is "declining economic conditions heightened by the tragic events of Sept. 11." In addition, she cited Nevada's status as the nation's fastest-growing state.
Since 9/11, Ford said, the number of Nevadans receiving Temporary Aid for Needy Families grants has risen by 9,635, Medicaid rolls by 39,047 and Food Stamps by 31,800.
Gov. Kenny Guinn said welfare expenditures for Temporary Aid for Needy Families grants alone were $1 million more than originally projected during February. He said the total needy-family grant budget is expected to be $15 million more than projected this fiscal year, and that any further economic damage will make things even worse.
"Any shock to our already precarious local and national economies could further exacerbate this situation," Guinn said.