WASHINGTON—Nearly half of workers in the U.S. do not have access to a retirement plan at work, according to a new AARP study. Nearly 57 million people — 48% of American private sector employees ages 18 to 64 — work for an employer that does not offer either a traditional pension or a retirement savings plan.
“Having access to a retirement plan at work is critical for building financial security later in life. And we know people are much more likely to save for retirement if they can do so automatically through their paycheck.” said Debra Whitman, AARP’s Executive Vice President and Chief Public Policy Officer. “We applaud the many states — with AARP’s support — that have already created programs that give workers access to retirement savings options and provide small businesses an effective way to attract and retain employees.”
AARP’s new research found that employees at small businesses are less likely to have access to a retirement plan than those at larger workplaces. About 78% of worker at companies with fewer than 10 employees and 65% who work in companies with 10 to 24 employees lack access to a plan. Even among employers with more than 1,000 workers, one-third of employees do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Access to a retirement plan varies by educational attainment. Just over three-quarters of workers with less than a high school degree (76%) do not have an employer-provided retirement plan — compared to half (50%) of workers with some college and nearly one-third (32%) with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The data also reveals disparities by race and ethnicity. Nearly 64% of Hispanic workers, 53% of Black workers, and 45% of Asian American workers lack access to an employer-provided retirement plan. Together, these employees account for about 46% (26 million) of the total 57 million uncovered workers.
“While Social Security is essential to retirement security, the average benefit is only about $1,600 a month,” said Whitman. “Providing workers with a convenient way to save for retirement helps ensure they will have additional resources beyond the foundation provided by Social Security.”
In a recent AARP survey, 96% of likely voters age 25 and over who are currently participating in a workplace retirement plan report the plan is important in helping them save for retirement. Nine in ten (91%) respondents also support establishing a state-facilitated program to help workers save for retirement if their employer does not currently offer them a way to save. To date, 14 states have enacted state-facilitated payroll deduction retirement savings or “Work & Save” programs.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.