To aid unemployed workers who wish to start their own business and become self-employed, federal legislation established the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program for states and territories. All SEA programs must meet standard federal guidelines that define what constitutes self-employment assistance activities, self-employment assistance allowances and the need for program participants to show they are working on a full-time basis to establish a business.

The following list provides links to legislation establishing state self-employment assistance programs, with mention of some of the unique variations.


Parts of Delaware’s SEA legislation aligns closely with DOL’s model legislation.


Mississippi’s legislation was signed by the governor in May of 2012. It includes provision for a steering committee to adopt the rules of operation for the SEA program and to select and certify training programs.

New Hampshire

The Pathway to Work Initiative is a voluntary program to assist unemployed claimants start their own business. 

New York

To qualify for New York’s SEA program, applicants must provide a description of the proposed self-employment, and their knowledge and expertise around the particular product or service, contact information for employers during the previous two years, and a description of the applicant’s work activity while employed. Preference is given to individuals who propose businesses not likely to compete with any base period employer.


Oregon's SEA program is a collaboration of the State Employment Department and the Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC). The program is funded out of the annual Unemployment and Wagner-Peyser grants. Entrepreneurial training is provided by community colleges and other educational institutions or through individual counseling sessions at the local SBDC.