This is an urgent problem. With the Republican Congress rejecting the Perez ERISA exemptions for cities, thereby killing Mayor de Blasio’s plan, and with no clear commitment from Governor Cuomo, this issue must be elevated to a constitutional right.
- An overwhelming majority of Americans believe there is a retirement crisis. Some 86 percent agree that the nation faces a retirement crisis, and 57 percent strongly agree there is a crisis.
- Over half of all private sector employees in New York – more than 3.5 million New Yorkers – lack access to a retirement savings plan at work such as a pension or 401(k).
- Only 43 percent of working people in New York City have access to a plan that can help them save for retirement. Those that do have access often face large fees, because they do not have the leverage provided by a collectively-pooled savings program.
- Even those who have started to save do not have much: 40 percent of people in New York City between the ages of 50 and 64 have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. The people in the rest of the state have similar numbers.
- By 2035, there could be more than 644,500 retired seniors in New York City living on less than $540 a week, rising to 709,000 by 2040. There will be hundreds of thousands more living in the same manner across the state.
- Mayor de Blasio announced a city-wide plan to provide a pooled pension for workers without access to one, but the U.S. House and Senate reversed Federal regulations that enabled it, killing an innovative plan.
The retirement crisis in New York State must be elevated to a constitutional issue. New York’s Constitution already features pension protections for state union members. We need to build on this base with a constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to a pension plan for every New Yorker.
The pension plan, like the plan for New York City that was recently killed by the Congress, should consist of a pooled pension that would automatically create individual retirement accounts for employees of businesses that do not already have a program. In addition, contractors who do not work for a business directly would also be entered into the program.
In this way, every working New Yorker would have access to a pension plan. In addition, the plan would move with the person as s/he changes jobs, rather than losing the pension or having to transfer it to another type of plan.