Garrett Therolf
Los Angeles Times
February 23, 2009

One in five Los Angeles County residents — nearly 2.2 million people — are receiving public assistance payments or benefits, a level county officials say will rise significantly over the coming months as the fallout from the recession continues.

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The percentage of people on county aid already equals the figure at the height of the 2001-03 recession and far exceeds the one in seven who needed help during the economic downturn in the early 1990s and the one in nine assisted in the collapse of the early 1980s.

The rise in welfare recipients in the county is the first sustained uptick since welfare reform under the Clinton administration imposed strict time limits on benefits in 1996.

County officials warn that tens of thousands of additional frustrated job seekers — unemployment in the county currently stands at 9.5% — are expected to seek aid to weather the persistent recession once their other benefits run out.

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