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Retirees in Action

   Jim Carr  A message from PEF Retiree President Jim Carr

Americans agree:
We want secure retirements

Fellow retirees, and union brothers and sisters, we welcome in 2020 with hope and optimism for continued good health, prosperity and a secure, dignified retirement for all working Americans. As we enter this new year, we need to stay informed about the issues that affect us all the most, and we must remain engaged in the political process to protect what we have earned.

In spite of this polarized political climate, “Americans are divided on many issues, but not when it comes to their economic insecurity in retirement,” according to the National Institute on Retirement Security Research.” Here are some of their key research findings:

• In overwhelming numbers Americans are worried about their ability to attain and sustain financial security in their older years. Three-fourths of Americans say the nation is in a retirement crisis, some 70 % say the average worker cannot save enough money on his or her own to guarantee a secure retirement. Sixty-five percent say it’s likely they will have to work past retirement age to have enough money to retire.

• Even as a nation remains deeply politically paralyzed, Americans are united in their sentiment about retirement issues. Democrats 80%, Republicans 75%, and independents 75% agree that the nation faces a retirement crisis.

• Across party lines, Americans have highly favorable views about pensions — Democrats 80%, Republicans 81%, independents 75%.

• Americans see government playing in important role in helping workers prepare for retirement, but lawmakers in Washington, DC just don’t get it and the new tax law has not helped. Some 84% of Americans say leaders in Washington have no idea how hard it is for American workers to prepare for retirement. More than half of Americans agree the government needs to increase Social Security contributions from both workers and employers. Few Americans, 34%, see the new tax law as improving their retirement aspects.

• In contrast to the sentiment about Washington, DC, efforts by state law makers to expand access to retirement accounts for all workers is widely supported. Americans overwhelmingly agree, 71%, that state-based retirement plans are a good idea and 74% of all Americans say they would participate in state retirement plans. Americans’ view key issues of state-based retirement plans is highly favorable, especially portability 90%, monthly checks 95%, and higher returns 86%.

• Americans are highly positive on the role of pensions and providing retirement security and see these retirement plans as better than 401k plans. More than 75% of Americans have a favorable view of the defined- benefit pensions. Seventy-seven percent say those with pensions — state and local retirees — likely feel more comfortable than those relying on individual savings.

• There is strong support for pension plans for state and local workers and Americans see these retirement plans as a tool to recruit and retain public workers. Some 82% of Americans say police and firefighters deserve a pension, while 74% say teachers deserve pensions to compensate for low pay. The overwhelming majority, 79%, of Americans say all workers should have pensions.

• Millennial’s are the most concerned about financial insecurity in retirement and are more willing than other generations to save more. Millennials are the most pessimistic, 72%, generation about achieving financial security and retirement.

If the new Congress is serious about addressing Americans’ retirement anxiety, a bold first step would be to strengthen Social Security and make it easier for companies to offer pensions.

We, state retirees, have pensions; and, in my humble opinion, every American who works most of their adult life should be entitled to a pension.

Fellow retirees and PEF members, stay informed, active and involved with your union and retirees organization. Start by checking out some new state budget proposals PEF has identified that could negatively affect you. The union and PEF Retirees will try to head them off before they can do real damage and you can help.

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