Can the Unemployed Become Self-Employed?

A recent posting on Bloomberg View caught our eye about the benefits of a state-funded jobless program in Oregon that is being used to help the unemployed start their own business.

It works something like this: Instead of being required to look for a full-time job, people who are unemployed are given the option to start their own business, provided that they’re business is evaluted to have a decent chance of success. Candidates are provided with about 26 weeks of income – roughly $10,000 – and are given business coaching and reviews of their startup plans. Self-employment aid is about the same cost of regular unemployment, which is about $400 per week.

Since 2000, 369 people have participated in Oregon’s program. According to a recent survey, seventye percent had started a business and nearly half of those were hiring workers. While Bloomberg acknowledges that the small survey’s responses might be skewed toward recipients who did well, the Oregon entrepreneurs still created an average of 2.63 jobs.

About a dozen states have similar programs but most are small. And California, Texas, and Florida, home to 30 percent of America’s unemployed, do not offer entrepreneurial assistance to the jobless.

We want to hear from you. Do you think programs such as these are worthwhile? Let us know.

-Karin Kamp