The persistent concentration of financial assets among the wealthiest families, combined with anemic retirement savings among most households, poses a significant economic threat to the retirement security of many working Americans.
The Labor Center conducts research and policy analysis related to the retirement crisis in California and the US, focusing on retirement wealth inequality by race, gender, and income; the shift from secure pensions to 401(k)s; and the impact of an aging population.
Research & Publications
A new research brief finds that financial asset inequality among Americans continues to increase, and the inequality is consistent across generations. This wealth inequality, combined with dangerously low retirement savings among most households, poses a significant threat to retirement for working Americans.
In this data brief, we highlight the lack of retirement assets among private sector employees and working-age families in California based on the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and 2014 Survey on Income and Program Participation. It turns out that California private sector workers are not merely behind on saving for retirement; half do not own retirement assets and most are currently not saving for retirement at all.
Over half of California private sector employees age 25-64 aren’t enrolled in a retirement savings plan or pension, according to a new data brief by Nari Rhee, director of the Retirement Security Program at UC Berkeley Labor Center. The brief provides a first-ever look at retirement assets—and the lack thereof—among private sector employees and working-age families in the state.
In order to have meaningful retirement security, America’s low-wage workers don’t just need an effective way to save—they also need a raise. The State of California is leading the way by providing both.
California’s $15 Minimum Wage and Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program Can Boost Young Low-Income Workers’ Retirement Incomes by 50%
This study examines the separate and combined impacts of the $15 minimum wage policy and Secure Choice on the retirement income of California workers in the bottom half of the income distribution.
Proposed Congressional Repeal of Federal Regulations Supporting State Auto-IRAs Threatens Retirement Security of 13 Million Workers in Five States
Republicans in Congress are trying to repeal Department of Labor (DOL) regulations that provide a safe harbor for states and large cities to sponsor retirement savings programs for private sector workers without running afoul of federal pension laws.
California enacted SB 1234 in 2016 authorizing implementation of the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program (Secure Choice) to help millions of workers save for retirement.
Lessons from California, Connecticut, and Oregon: How Plan Design Considerations Shape the Financial Feasibility of State Auto-IRAs
As a growing number of states move toward establishing retirement savings plans for private sector workers who lack access to an employer-sponsored plan, policymakers and stakeholders are very interested in plan cost. Will the program be self-sustaining? Can it charge fees that are low enough to be attractive to participants? What happens if enrollment falls short of assumptions?
This report examines the distinct challenges posed by the current retirement system of Social Security, pensions, and savings for working-age women, retirement-aged women, and retired women.
Published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. California and Connecticut completed studies on the feasibility of state-sponsored retirement savings plans for private sector workers who do not…
California faces a retirement crisis. As we documented in our 2011 volume, Meeting California’s Retirement Security Challenge, a large share of workers in the state are at risk of serious…
California Secure Choice: Market Analysis, Feasibility Study, and Program Design Consultant Services
Final report for the Market Analysis, Financial Feasibility, and Program Design study for the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan as required by SB 1234.
With the senior population expected to grow by nearly two-thirds in the next two decades, and most workers unprepared for retirement, California faces a mounting retirement crisis. While the retirement…
The study analyzes workplace retirement plan coverage, retirement account ownership, and household retirement savings as a percentage of income, and estimates the share of working families that meet financial industry recommended benchmarks for retirement savings.
Can a publicly sponsored retirement plan for private sector workers guarantee benefits at no risk to the state?
This Policy Brief broadly assesses the feasibility of such a plan by analyzing the private cost of guarantees, probable investment returns simulated through a hypothetical pension investment portfolio, and the long-term funded status of a hypothetical pension plan given conservative assumptions.
The purpose of this research brief is to outline the magnitude and character of the retirement plan coverage gap in California’s private sector and to analyze their implications for state policy aimed at improving retirement income security.
Meeting California’s Retirement Security Challenge through a State Sponsored Retirement Plan: Policy Design Challenges and Options
This paper outlines key choices in developing a state sponsored retirement system for private sector workers in California who lack access to a workplace pension.
Black workers face particularly severe challenges in building adequate financial wealth–whether through employer sponsored pensions, home equity, or other financial assets–to have enough retirement income in addition to Social Security to guarantee economic independence in old age.