Unemployment Committee Races Deadline to Implement SEAP Program

The SBAC Unemployment Committee continues to advance implementation of the Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP) unemployment program, despite a tight deadline due to a lack of federal funding after 2012.

The SEAP allows qualified unemployed individuals to receive benefits while focusing solely on creating their own small business. Currently unemployed individuals are required to seek full-time employment.

Earlier this year, the SBAC supported state legislation authorizing SEAP and began educating IDES officials about the positive economic impact of the program and its success in other states. Since the bill was introduced, President Obama signed a federal unemployment law authorizing states to participate in SEAP with implementation of state agency rules and approval by the U.S. Department of Labor, making the state legislation unnecessary.

However, in order to qualify this year for federal funding, the program must obtain Labor Department approval and be implemented by IDES by August of this year. Otherwise, funding past 2012 is uncertain and will more than likely not be voted upon by Congress until December of this year.

In an effort to meet this deadline, committee members recently met with Illinois House sponsor Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) to discuss program guidelines and rules, and IDES and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) have also begun working together to integrate use of DCEO’s small business assistance programs. The committee plans to submit proposed rules to IDES by the end of May, and anticipates the program being implemented this year.

“We’re excited about the cooperation and support we’ve received from state legislators and policy leaders like Representative Sente and IDES Director Jay Rowell,” said Bryan McDonald, SBAC Unemployment Committee Chair. “With their collaboration, we anticipate the program will be in place by Labor Day and ultimately will have a positive impact on the economy.”

Several states already administer SEAP programs, including Oregon, New York and Washington, where the programs have stimulated the economy through job creation.