Like Billy Joel, I frequently find myself in “A New York State of Mind.” I am a New Yorker — born, raised and educated in the Empire State. Though I no longer live there, I still call it home — which is why I was concerned by the findings of a new AARP survey released last week. The reality is, the New York state of mind is experiencing high anxiety when it comes to saving for retirement — especially Generation X, which started turning 50 this year.
Seventy-four percent of Gen Xers are worried about not saving enough. Thirty percent lack any kind of retirement savings plan, whether work-sponsored or personal. That alarming stat means New York is set to face a growing financial storm that could deprive millions of Gen Xers of financial independence in retirement — while increasing the need for taxpayer-funded public assistance.
The good news is that a secure retirement can be within reach — and AARP is fighting for the tools you need to retire with confidence. One of these tools, called Work and Save, helps you save for retirement through an easy payroll deduction at work — an option not available to many employees.
Work and Save Victory in Washington
AARP has been making progress in states across the country: Just last week Gov. Jay Inslee signed bipartisan legislation to help 1.1 million Washington state residents save by creating a Small Business Retirement Marketplace so employers can offer savings plans to their employees at work.
Passed by the state legislature this year, this Work and Save plan is the second in the nation, followed by Illinois. While the plans look different and go by different names, the bottom line is the same: Work and Save plans help workers save for a secure financial future at work — a tool that increases savings rates 15 times.
The bill not only passed with huge bipartisan backing, it also carried support from the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association:
“Washington State’s adoption of the Small Business Retirement Marketplace Program is a step forward in encouraging greater retirement savings. Small businesses often don’t have the resources to offer a retirement savings plan to their employees. This program pairs the public and private sectors in order to facilitate information flow to employees and fill the current savings gap facing America’s current and future retirees.” — Marin E. Gibson, managing director for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association
Other States to Watch
Oregon: The Oregon legislature is considering a Work and Save plan, which according to a recent AARP survey of small-business owners is greatly needed. According to the survey, almost three in five small-business owners do not provide a retirement savings plan to their employees, and about a quarter do not even have a retirement savings plan for themselves.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Oregon’s economy. Yet unfortunately, many small-business owners and employees are struggling to save for retirement.” — Jerry Cohen, state director for AARP Oregon
New Jersey: The Garden State’s Work and Save plan goes by the name Secure Choice and could mean a secure retirement for many. Introduced with bipartisan support, the plan is being considered by the state legislature.
Connecticut: A recent survey by AARP of Connecticut small-business owners shows that not only is there great support for such a plan in Connecticut, but also great need.
- Forty percent of small-business owners do not provide a retirement savings plan to their employees, and about 20 percent do not even have a retirement plan for themselves.
- Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed agreed that Connecticut should be doing more to encourage residents to save for retirement.
Follow me on Twitter @RoamTheDomes for more news on retirement security. And to stay up to date on our AARP advocacy in the states, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter or visit your state Web page.
Elaine Ryan is the vice president of State Advocacy and Strategy Integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.