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New York, NY, August 9, 2006-June O’Neill, professor of economics at Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business and director of the Center for the Study of Business and Government, frequently weighs in on issues of social policy—as befits a former head of the Congressional Budget Office (1995-1999).  On July 19, O’Neill testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the 10-year outcomes of 1996 welfare legislation.  “The results,” O’Neill offered, “in many respects, have exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic supporters of the reforms.” 

According to the findings of Professor O’Neill and her research colleagues, both welfare dependency and child poverty declined in the past decade, while both the income and workforce participation of single mothers increased. She attributes these gains squarely to the 1996 legislation, which ended Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Under the new law, she notes, “Welfare is no longer an entitlement whether in terms of its financing or its philosophy.”

O’Neill has also voiced an opinion as to how poverty and unemployment levels in the U.S. would be affected by changes in the minimum wage.  She discussed this most recently on ABC TV’s Good Morning America on August 4, when she suggested that the overall economic impact of an increase to the minimum wage would be negative. A bill to raise the federal minimum wage level from $5.50 to $7.25 an hour over a period of two years is currently wending its way through Congress, and its prospects are unclear. 

Contact: Zane Berzins, News Director,, (646)-660-6105

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