Self-employment assistance redirects aim of unemployment insurance

September 30, 2013

Self-employment assistance redirects aim of unemployment insurance

The length of time an individual is eligible for unemployment insurance is quickly eroding. State governments are forced to reign in spending and control ballooning federal debts from unemployment insurance loans, and while the market is improving, some will find themselves without any income when benefits expire.

However, a select few unemployed individuals in Mississippi could be behind the desk of their own company before benefits dry up. The U.S. Department of Labor awarded the state of Mississippi more than $350,000 in grant money to develop a self-employment assistance program, according to local NBC affiliate WTVA.  The Mississippi Department of Employment Security announced Wednesday that the program will rollout in early 2014 and is expected fund between 50 and 100 new businesses.

Instead of spending time searching for a new job – a frustrating and unrewarding task for many – some people receiving unemployment will work on creating a new business. Funding for the grant was made possible by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, and Mississippi is just one of several states developing such programs. Vermont recently received $49,329 in grants for its SEA program.

Program provides new opportunities, education
While the funding won't provide a large infusion of cash for a new business, the benefit of the grants is that workers can still receive some income while training to be re-employed. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the programs are aimed at individuals who have been permanently laid off and are deemed likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits before finding a new job. The program operates under the "teach a man to fish" mentality and offers some individuals the chance to realize a dream following the loss of a job.

State work search requirements are dropped for individuals in the program so that they may devote time to building their business. The program also allows time for entrepreneurial training and business education classes.

The funding is limited, and in Mississippi only 5 percent of individuals on unemployment can receive money through the program at one time. The MDES will monitor the new businesses and track any income they earn. Revenue generated through a new business will not be deducted from unemployment compensation.

Individuals who recently lost their job should contact their state's unemployment insurance agency immediately to learn if an SEA program is available.

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