Federal Self-Employment Program Encourages More State Adoption


Federal Self-Employment Program Encourages More State Adoption

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By Kristie L. Arslan

Legislation that passed in February did more than just extend the federal payroll tax deduction. It also made changes to the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program.

This voluntary program allows states to pay a self-employment allowance to unemployed individuals who are in the process of establishing businesses and realizing the dream of self-employment. Currently only Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington have adopted SEA programs.

The NASE has previously expressed a desire to see these types of programs extended and embraced by all 50 states. We have called upon Congress to help pass legislation that would assist all states in launching self-employment training programs for residents.

These training programs should be available free to all unemployed citizens—providing them with an avenue to create their own job if they’re unable to find one.

Changes To The Program

The legislation passed in February included several important changes to SEA.

  1. It made federally-financed unemployment benefits available to the program.
  2. The legislation directs the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration to provide technical assistance to states that are interested in establishing the program.
  3. It includes $35 million to help states administer the SEA program. This is a huge incentive for states to participate. Previously, each state absorbed the costs of developing and maintaining its own program.

Who Is Eligible To Participate?

In most cases, an individual must be eligible to receive regular unemployment insurance under state law.

Those who have been permanently laid off from previous employment and are deemed by the state as likely to exhaust unemployment benefits are eligible to participate in the SEA program.

Individuals may also be eligible even if they are already occupied by full-time self-employment activities, such as training, business counseling and technical assistance.

SEA Is A Positive Step

At the state level, the voluntary SEA program can translate into real opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to launch their businesses and become engines of economic growth.

The NASE hopes that states will embrace the SEA and use the new funding streams to quickly implement a program.

The NASE is a fervent supporter of federal small-business programs that have a proven track record of efficiently aiding very small businesses and the self-employed.

These programs currently include:

We hope to add the SEA program to that list should it prove to be positive for business owners.

Kristie L. Arslan is president and CEO of the NASE and provides critical insight to policymakers on issues affecting our nation’s self-employed. You can contact her at advocacy@NASE.org.


You can help promote the Self-Employment Assistance program.

Visit the NASE’s Legislative Action Center to tell your member of Congress that you support the Self-Employment Assistance program.

Read this article in PDF form here.

Courtesy of NASE.org