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Voters of Both Parties Clamoring for Retirement Security: Survey

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What You Need to Know

  • Bipartisan momentum is building on Capitol Hill for comprehensive retirement reform.
  • A majority of American voters across the political spectrum agree that retirement security is a problem.
  • Of those without a retirement savings account, 44% said they did not have enough money after expenses to save.

“Bipartisan” isn’t a word you hear a lot on Capitol Hill these days, but a recent flurry of retirement legislation includes major bipartisan proposals.

Momentum is building for comprehensive retirement reform with proposals like the Improving Access to Retirement Savings Act and the Securing a Strong Retirement Act, known as Secure 2.0. Another bill, reintroduced from previous congressional sessions, the Retirement Security & Savings Act, would help small businesses offer 401(k)s and other retirement plans, among other provisions.

How urgent is retirement reform? A new survey from the Economic Innovation Group finds that a big majority of American voters across the political spectrum agree that retirement security is a problem for the country.

Echelon Insights conducted the nationally representative online survey in mid-March among 1,000 registered voters. 

According to the survey, three-quarters of Americans feel confident about their financial futures, but only half are confident that the next generation will be better off.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents reported that they had an IRA or a 401(k), but only 48% said their employer offers a matching contribution. 

Of those without a retirement savings account, 44% said they did not have enough money after expenses to save.

Sixty-seven percent of survey participants said they would have enough savings to live comfortably in retirement, including 78% of African American respondents and 69% of white respondents, but just 44% of Hispanics.

Low-Income Americans

Asked how concerned they felt, if at all, about the ability of low-income Americans to save for the future and about retirement security, 82% in each instance reported that they were somewhat to extremely concerned.

Seventy-seven percent of African Americans in the survey expressed concern about low-income workers’ ability to save for the future, compared with 51% of white respondents. Fifty-eight percent of those under 40 said they were concerned, versus 53% of those older than 40.

Sixty-five percent of African American participants and 54% of those over 40 said retirement security is a problem for the U.S., compared with 49% of white respondents and 47% of those under 40.

Ninety-four percent of Republicans in the survey and 92% of Democrats agreed with this statement: “Social Security alone is not enough for someone to get by in retirement, so Americans need to be able to set aside additional savings in their working years.”

And 92% of Democrats and 91% of Republicans agreed that all working Americans should be able to participate in a retirement savings plan.

There was more divergence by political affiliation on whether Americans should have access to the same retirement savings plan as government employees. Eighty-two percent of Democrats said they should, as did 74% of Republicans.

Policy Proposals

Asked whether they supported several policy proposals, after reading a short description of each one, here’s how survey participants responded:

  • Government/federally matched retirement contributions: support, 55%; unsure, 13%; oppose, 32%.
  • Universal basic income: support, 47%; unsure, 12%; oppose, 42%.
  • Child allowance: support, 41%; unsure, 12%; oppose, 47%.
  • Baby bonds: support, 40%; unsure, 13%; oppose, 47%.

Survey participants were then given a fuller description of the government-matched retirement contributions plan, including several points that indicated its advantages for low- and middle-income workers.

Support for such a plan increased to 63% and opposition fell to 23%, while 14% said they were unsure.

The Economic Innovation Group recently introduced a plan co-authored by a bipartisan pair of economists that would expand access to retirement savings through a program modeled after the federal Thrift Savings Plan for lower-income working Americans, including government-matched retirement contributions.

(Image: Shutterstock)