State Initiatives to Cover Uncovered Private Sector Workers


In contrast to state and local government employees, who typically have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, only about half of private sector employees are covered by such plans. This lack of coverage has adverse implications for these employees’ long-term financial security, as many will have to rely exclusively on Social Security in retirement.

With little legislative progress being made at the federal level, some states have taken their own steps to address the retirement savings gap. This brief provides an overview of state-level retirement savings initiatives as well as the U.S. Department of Labor’s efforts to assist these initiatives by removing regulatory barriers. Key findings include:

  • Four states — California, Oregon, Illinois, and Connecticut — have enacted auto-IRA legislation;
  • Two other states — Washington and New Jersey — are setting up voluntary marketplaces to promote low-cost retirement plans to small employers;
  • Eleven states are actively pursuing legislation; and
  • Seven states were unsuccessful in passing legislation.
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