US. Workplace Retirement Coverage Drops And The System Continues To Fail
Despite an aging workforce who are worried about retirement and despite $140 billion annual tax breaks, and despite relatively light regulation, retirement plan coverage at work (including defined benefit and 401(k)-type coverage) has declined over the last two decades. Just 40 percent of workers were covered by a retirement plan through their workplace in 2017 , 4 percentage points lower than in 2014. And retirement plan coverage has fallen in 14 out of 17 years since 2000. The lack of coverage hurts some groups more than others and though employer provided retirement plan coverage declined for every demographic group, some groups lost more than others. The coverage rate for white (down 5 points to 43 percent), black (down 5 points to 38 percent) and Asian (down 4 points to 37 percent) workers all fell significantly. Coverage for Hispanic workers (down 1 point to 29 percent) remains lower than for other workers.
A surprising, and politically important fact, is that workplace retirement plan coverage fell the most for high-income workers. Coverage of workers in the top 10 percent of the income distribution (those with incomes more than $115,000) fell to 50 percent in 2017, down 10 percentage points compared to 2014. Coverage of workers in the next 40 percent of earners (between $42,000 and $115,000), fell 7 percentage points to 50 percent. Finally, just 34 percent of workers in the bottom half of the income distribution were covered by a retirement plan at work, down 4 percentage points from 2014.
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