Supporting Self-Employment as a Reemployment Strategy: Impacts of a Pilot Program for Dislocated Workers After 18 Months
The Self-Employment Training (SET) pilot program was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to test strategies for supporting dislocated workers interested in starting their own businesses. Unemployed and underemployed workers who proposed businesses in their fields of expertise were eligible to participate. SET participants received free access to 12 months of case management, customized training and technical assistance, and up to $1,000 in seed capital microgrant funds for business start-up costs. The program operated in four sites-Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; Los Angeles, California; and Portland, Oregon-between 2013 and 2017.
This report presents results from an evaluation of SET's impacts on outcomes using survey data collected 18 months after the study enrollees applied to the program. The authors estimated impacts based on the evaluation's random assignment design, in which 1,981 eligible applicants were divided almost equally between the SET program group and a control group. Key findings are that, as of the 18-month survey date, SET led to greater receipt of personalized assistance and seed capital, produced a sustained increase in self-employment activity, and led to modest increases in the rate of employment in any job (through self-employment or a wage/salary job). The SET program group and the control group earned similar amounts during the year before the survey. Hence, there was no discernable impact of SET on earnings over the period covering 7 to 18 months after study enrollment. Findings for additional outcomes, as well as differences across sites and select demographic and socioeconomic groups. An implementation report describing the development and operation of the program within the sites is also available, as well as two issue briefs.