A Bonus For Welfare Hiring

Two years into the federal Welfare to Work initiative, few small businesses are participating. While many owners have legitimate reservations, lack of information plays a role, too. A study from the Jerome Levy Economics Institute of Bard College shows only 16% of small employers who hired new workers in early 1998 took on former welfare recipients, even though 75% said they would hire such workers if the government partly subsidized wages. Guess what? It does. Even the members of the nonprofit Welfare to Work Partnership--a coalition of companies that hire ex-welfare recipients--are missing out. A survey showed only 12% of members with fewer than 50 workers were taking advantage of two key federal tax credits. "Small companies are leaving a lot of money on the table," says the coalition's Michael Barbera, adding there are also state and local funds. For more info, visit www.welfaretowork.org or www.whitehouse.gov/WH/Welfare/index.html. Or call the partnership at 888 USA-JOB1.