Employees want access to DC plans

U.S. workers are big fans of workplace retirement plans and the defined contribution system in general, according to research by LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. The problem is, employees aren’t always getting enough opportunity to embrace those plans through their employers.

Just 46% of employers offer defined contribution retirement plans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and only 58% of civilian workers have the chance to save for retirement with a workplace-sponsored plan. That means that 50 million workers in the U.S. don’t have access to a workplace retirement plan, but when asked if they would save for retirement if they had access to a plan, respondents said absolutely, LIMRA found.

“Improving access to worksite retirement savings plans is a critical step in improving retirement security and opportunities for workers,” says Deb Dupont, associate managing director for LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. “Workers who have the convenience of being able to save for retirement from a payroll deduction are more likely to save than those who don’t. Previous research showed that among those with access, 83% are regularly saving for retirement, while among those without access, only 21% are regularly saving for retirement.”

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Employees also value the many features available through a DC plan, LIMRA says. Nearly all (91%) of surveyed workers said it is important to know their retirement plan investments have been made with their best interests in consideration. They also value a variety of investments, with 9 out of 10 workers surveyed saying they felt investment choice was important in a retirement program.

LIMRA pointed out that many states, dealing with a host of impoverished retirees, have tried to either mandate coverage, create exchanges or facilitate employee retirement savings through payroll deduction. The Federal government attempted to do the same with the MyRA program, which was launched about two years ago. That program allows employees to set up a starter IRA that they can contribute to through payroll deduction.

“Uptake has been lukewarm at best, though, with approximately 20,000 people opting to participate,” LIMRA says.

Additionally, workers who do have access to a 401(k) plan or other DC plan at work say they value the ability of their employer to contribute to their retirement account, the education meetings held at work and the materials passed out about the plan. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed also appreciated being able to take a loan from their retirement plan in case of an emergency.

The survey was conducted in May 2016 of a nationally representative sample of more than 5,200 full-time and part-time American workers.

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