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Can I Get Unemployment if I Am Self-Employed in New Jersey?

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Unemployment compensation in New Jersey covers living expenses for residents who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Most New Jersey employers are required to contribute to state unemployment insurance to provide these benefits to employees who are laid off, fired without just cause or forced to leave their employers for a spouse's employment-related relocation. If you seek self-employment after losing your job, New Jersey does not provide unemployment benefits; however, it may provide similar benefits under the state's Self Employment Assistance Program.

Self Employment Assistance Program

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the Self Employment Assistance Program, which provides weekly benefits to qualified unemployed workers who pursue business ownership instead of employment. This program provides payments identical to the state's unemployment compensation program without requiring recipients to actively seek traditional employment as a condition of eligibility.

Other Benefits

The Self Employment Assistance Program provides New Jersey recipients with benefits in addition to financial compensation for job loss. It provides a mandatory 60-hour business-training course to help prepare participants for the challenges of owning a business. The course covers taxation, legal and human resources aspects of operating a business and strategies for developing effective marketing and business plans. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development also offers technical help and counseling to help you develop your business plan.

Application

If you become unemployed through no fault of your own and want to start a business instead of finding another job, visit your local One-Stop Career Center. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development maintains a list of centers on its website. At the One-Stop Career Center you can work with a counselor to determine if you qualify for the state's Self Employment Assistance Program. The counselor will enroll you in a workshop and provide you with an application. Once you have completed the application, the counselor will review your information and notify you of acceptance.

Considerations

Not every displaced worker interested in starting a business in New Jersey qualifies for the Self Employment Assistance Program. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development must determine that you are likely to exhaust traditional unemployment benefits if forced to seek traditional employment. You must also have access to financial backing to sustain your business until it becomes profitable, and must be willing to devote full-time hours to building your business.

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About the Author

Owen Pearson is a freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2001, focusing on nutritional and health topics. After selling abstract art online for five years, Pearson published a nonfiction book detailing the process of building a successful online art business. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.