The Assembly Committee on Insurance passed legislation Wednesday that would create the Self-Employment Assistance Program in California and allow some unemployed workers to focus on creating a microbusiness while claiming jobless benefits.
The bill, AB 152, authored by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, was approved by the committee on a 9-2 vote.
Yamada noted that, despite signs of economic recovery, many Californians are still unemployed and the state needs to consider options like SEA.
“The Self Employment Assistance Program recognizes the rapidly evolving labor market in a time of continued high unemployment,” Yamada said in a news release. “SEA provides another pathway to reemployment by promoting entrepreneurship and microenterprise development.”
The SEA program would focus on a subset of unemployed workers identified as likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits without becoming re-employed. The Congressional Research Service reported recently that SEA participants in other states were more likely to become self-employed or gain other employment.
“An SEA program turns unemployed workers into employers,” says Claudia Viek, CEO of the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity. “Often these folks are over 50; their job has gone away, and they can best support their family by starting a business.”
Passage of AB 152 also would permit California to apply for $5.3 million in federal funding.
The bill is now headed to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations for consideration later this spring.