According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 15 million workers were self-employed in 2016. Self-employment can offer dislocated workers a path to financial security and economic mobility. In 2013, the Department of Labor funded the Self-Employment Training (SET) pilot in California, Illinois, Ohio and Oregon to help dislocated workers start their own businesses. These briefs discuss the early findings of the evaluation, which used random assignment to determine who received SET services.

Case Management for Self-Employment Success: Emerging Lessons from the Self-Employment Training Program. 2017. This brief highlights early lessons learned from the implementation of intensive case management support for dislocated workers provided through the SET pilot program. It summarizes the benefits of providing case management to program participants, describes case management activities, and discusses implementation fidelity. The brief closes with three lessons learned from the pilot, and three recommendations for improving SET case management.


The Characteristics and Motivations of Participants in the Self-Employment Training Demonstration. 2017. This brief summarizes the demographic characteristics, education and employment history, financial situation, and personality traits of the dislocated worker participants who enrolled in the SET pilot program. The brief concludes that SET is reaching its target population: dislocated workers interested in starting a business. “Among SET study participants, 60 percent were unemployed when they applied. Of these, about a third had been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer....Many study participants had prior experience with self-employment…[and] almost three-quarters of this group had received some type of self-employment support before applying to SET.”


What Does $1,000 in Seed Capital Buy? Emerging Lessons from the SET Program’s Offer of Microgrants for Business Start-Ups. 2017. This brief provides early findings from the provision of microgrants to dislocated workers in the SET program. It describes the percentage of participants who received a seed capital microgrant, the timing of funding requests, the primary industries of participants’ businesses, and the most common uses of the microgrant. “Most microgrant recipients used the $1,000 to invest in electronics, supplies, and marketing materials that could help them bring in and serve customers.” Early findings indicate that: “Almost 40 percent of seed capital recipients proposed starting businesses in professional, scientific, and technical service industries. Microenterprise providers and participants indicated that these industries may have lower barriers to entry because they allow people to operate like consultants, using their existing networks, without needing storefronts.”