A Study of the Self-Employment Assistance Program: Helping Unemployed Workers Pursue Self-Employment

Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
Jan 11, 2017
Authors
Elizabeth Weigensberg, Karen Needels, Alix Gould-Werth, Ankita Patnaik, and Joanne Lee

Key Findings:

  • From January 2013 through June 2015, close to 5,000 UI recipients entered SEA programs, and six states had an active program at the end of 2015.
  • Program champions were instrumental in the establishment and maintenance of the program, building support for the program among partners and within the state labor departments.
  • SEA programs typically rely on partners, such as Small Business Development Centers, to provide important business development supports, including counseling, mentoring, or training, to program participants.
  • The breadth and intensity of SEA services and supports offered in study states often changed over time, usually in response to fluctuations in available funding.
This report for the Department of Labor examines Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) programs, which help qualifying unemployment insurance recipients set up a business in lieu of seeking a new job. In addition to providing a weekly self-employment allowance, SEA programs typically partnered with other organizations to provide participants with important business development supports, including counseling, mentoring, or training. Researchers examined states’ motivation for establishing SEA programs, states’ experiences with implementing a program, and outcomes of SEA participants and their businesses.