Half of California workers have no retirement savings, says UC Berkeley report

Is California heading for a retirement crisis?

Half of California workers have no retirement savings, says UC Berkeley report
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Many Californians may sink into downward mobility in their golden years because of a lack of retirement savings, says a new report by Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. 

About half of California private sector employees ages 25 to 64 don’t have dedicated retirement savings, according to a new report by Nari Rhee, director of the Retirement Security Program at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. The report provides a rare look at the startling lack of retirement assets among private sector employees and working-age families in the state. The study is based on an analysis of microdata from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and its 2014 Survey on Income and Program Participation.

“When it comes to retirement income security, most working Californians are in trouble,” says Rhee, the study author, as Berkeley News reported. “They don’t own an IRA or a 401(k)…and they don’t have a pension from a current or past job. This is troubling, because it means they’re falling short of what they need to have saved to avoid downward mobility in retirement.”

Since Social Security payouts are far from enough to cover retiree expenses, some are predicting a retirement crisis. Experts say the problem is not a lack of discipline in terms of saving but rather a lack of access to traditional pension plans and workplace retirement vehicles. California ranks 45th out of 50 states in the nation when it comes to private employee access to retirement plans and about 7.4 million California private sector employees do not have access to a workplace retirement plan, the report notes.

That’s why the state recently launched CalSavers, an auto-enrollment retirement savings program for private sector workers in firms with five or more employees that do not offer a pension or 401(k). The program is designed to  increase the number of working Californians who will retire with a nest egg to supplement Social Security.

“Every Californian deserves a chance to retire in dignity after a lifetime of work,” says Katie Selenski, executive director of CalSavers, as Berkeley News noted. “The Berkeley study underscores how far we have to go to get there.”

More and more older Californians are postponing retirement because they can’t afford not to work, experts warn. They are part of a global trend that shows that retirement account balances aren’t enough to cover rising life expectancy. Here in the Golden State, skyrocketing costs of everything from housing to healthcare are only making matters worse.

“These findings highlight not just the state’s retirement crisis,” says Rhee, “but the overall concentration of income and wealth in California, where one in three working Californians has a low-wage job alongside some of the wealthiest people in the nation.”

blog comments powered by Disqus