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  • The Self-Employment Assistance Program in Pennsylvania provides unemployed workers with a high risk of exhausting their unemployment benefits before they find employment with the chance of starting their own business. The program started as a trial in the states of Washington and Massachusetts but has now spread to the states of Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Oregon. Although all of these states have slight differences in their programs they follow the same standard model and can be analyzed as if it were one.

    This article will look into the details of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Self-Employment Assistance Program and how it affects Pennsylvania workers who wish to use unemployment benefits to support their financial needs why they build up their own business.

    How to apply?

    The Pennsylvania Self-Employment Assistance Program is rather unique in that, strictly speaking, you cannot apply for it; you must be invited. The invitation depends on a profiling system which filters workers who are likely to return to the workforce or have the assets, experience or know-how start a business without assistance. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has not published how the profiling system works exactly but it is based on the Massachusetts experimental model that got the Self-Employment Assistance Program started in the late 1990s. This profiling system is designed to make the program as cost-effective as possible by helping those who are most likely to become a financial burden to the state and exhaust their weekly benefits.


    The benefits offered to participants in the Self-Employment Assistance Program in Pennsylvania are the same benefits offered to any unemployed worker. Whatever you are entitled to under the general unemployment insurance program, you will receive in the Self-Employment Assistance Program. Your benefits amount is dependent on your total income before you lost your employment. If you do not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, you will not qualify for the Self-Employment Assistance Program.


    The Self-Employment Assistance Program in Pennsylvania offers participants courses on business management, technical assistance in the industry they choose and information on the requirements to start a business. While you are enrolled in these courses you will not be required to search for work and you can use time not spent in training to launch your business.

    For those that do not qualify for the Self-Employment Assistance Program there are similar programs that provide training and assistance. However, under those programs you will be expected to search for work and accept any suitable employment offers.

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