Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, has introduced legislation to harness the entrepreneurial potential of California’s unemployed workers.
Assembly Bill 152 would create the Self-Employment Assistance program in California, which would allow some unemployed workers to continue to claim jobless benefits while also accessing microbusiness development services.
Yamada noted that many Californians remain unemployed despite signs of economic recovery, and current law forbids an unemployment insurance claimant from starting a business while collecting benefits.
“This bill is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship and self-reliance in a changed labor market where temporary layoffs have often become permanent,” Yamada said. “SEA would help approximately 12,000 job-seekers who are likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits without finding a job.”
The SEA program focuses on people who are likely to succeed in establishing their own business who, in addition to being close to exhausting their unemployment benefits, also have a quality idea that translates into a viable business plan suitable for attracting financing.
Passage of Yamada’s bill would permit California to apply for approximately $5.3 million in federal funding for the program provided through The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Act of 2012. States have until June 30 to apply for grant funds to implement or expand SEA programs.
Five states — Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Oregon — have operated successful SEA programs for several years, Yamada said.
“An SEA program turns unemployed workers into employers,” said Claudia Viek, CEO of the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity, the bill’s sponsor. “Other states that have such a program really like what it does for their economy and new job creation.”