Importance of Supplemental Retirement Savings Plans for City and County Employees


Local governments rely on retirement plans and other employee benefits to help recruit, retain, and provide economic security to career employees in retirement. Many governments also offer supplemental retirement plans to help employees save, but participation in these supplemental plans varies, as do their characteristics.

In this brief, the final in a three-part series, the authors analyze employee participation in primary and supplemental retirement plans, retiree health care benefits, and Social Security in 20 large cities and counties. They conclude that employees consider the value of their retirement benefits when deciding whether to enroll in a supplemental plan. Other key findings include:

  • All 20 local government employers in the study offer their employees the opportunity to contribute to a supplemental retirement savings plan. The most frequently offered plan is a 457 plan;
  • The characteristics of the primary retirement benefits are associated with the participation rates in supplemental plans;
  • Workers covered by less generous primary pensions are more likely to contribute to voluntary supplemental retirement plans;
  • City or county governments that give matching contributions, have multiple plans, and allow online enrollment also have higher participation rates in supplemental plans; and
  • Supplemental retirement savings plans provide local government workers with shorter career tenures with an important opportunity to build retirement wealth.


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