State Automated Savings Programs

Collected resources on employer, worker, and taxpayer experiences

Tens of millions of Americans don’t have access to workplace retirement benefits, threatening their future financial security and burdening state budgets. In the last decade more than a dozen states and cities passed legislation establishing automated savings programs designed to help workers save for retirement. Also known as auto-IRAs, work and save, and secure choice, these programs allow small businesses to recruit and retain workers by offering a no-cost retirement benefit. And when workers are more financially secure, they are less reliant on taxpayer-funded government programs, better able to withstand financial shocks, and more likely to save for their future.

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ retirement savings project provides data, analysis, and technical assistance to help states design automated savings programs to best fit the needs of employers, workers, and taxpayers.

This video is hosted by YouTube. In order to view it, you must consent to the use of “Marketing Cookies” by updating your preferences in the Cookie Settings link below. View on YouTube

This video is hosted by YouTube. In order to view it, you must consent to the use of “Marketing Cookies” by updating your preferences in the Cookie Settings link below. View on YouTube

No Retirement Plan at Work? An Automated Savings Program Can Fix That

Benefits for Small Businesses

Many small businesses are unable to offer retirement benefits because of high startup costs and lack of administrative capacity. Automated savings programs are a no-cost and user-friendly retirement benefit for small businesses.

Article

Massachusetts Small Business Supports Retirement Program

Quick View
Article

Eight in 10 small-business owners in Massachusetts support creation of a state-facilitated retirement savings program that would help private sector workers who don’t have plans through their jobs put money away for retirement, according to a survey conducted from July to September 2023 for The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Fact Sheet

'Washington Saves' Would Help 1.2M Workers Save

Quick View
Fact Sheet

Retirement security is largely dependent on people saving money through a plan provided by their employer, but millions of Americans lack access to this important benefit. Research shows that workers are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if they can do so through payroll deduction, but many small businesses are unable to offer retirement benefits due to high startup costs and a lack of administrative capacity.

Savings Access for Private Sector Workers

Research shows that workers are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if they can use payroll deduction. Yet tens of millions of Americans—nearly half of private sector workers—don’t have access to retirement savings at work.

Article

State Automated Retirement Assets Hit $1 Billion

Quick View
Article

Automated savings programs, intended to help private sector workers put earnings away for their retirement, hit a major milestone in November: Cumulative account assets across the seven state programs topped $1 billion.

Issue Brief

Illinois Retirement Savings Program Reaches Target Audiences

Quick View
Issue Brief

Almost half of Americans aged 18 to 64 who work in the private sector lack access to a workplace retirement savings plan. The most common reason employers give for not having started a plan is that they view setup to be too expensive and burdensome

Fiscal Impact of Barriers to Savings

States across the country are dealing with multiple budgeting challenges. Insufficient retirement savings will increase pressure on public assistance programs, reduce tax revenue, and decrease household spending by retirees while shifting the growing fiscal burden to a shrinking population of working-age taxpayers.

Selective focus on detail of 10 dollars banknote.
Selective focus on detail of 10 dollars banknote.
Article

$334.3 Billion Shortfall Due to Insufficient Retirement Savings

Quick View
Article

Although most Americans save for retirement through employer-provided plans, 56 million private sector workers lack access to such an opportunity to save at work. Many employers, particularly small businesses, find themselves unable to provide retirement benefits because of high startup costs and limited administrative capacity. And that leaves state governments grappling with a critical question: What happens when their residents don’t have enough money to retire?

Tatiana Contreras, manager of Call Your Mother bakery in the Barracks Row community, prepares coffee on January 3, 2023 in Washington, DC. Barracks Row is a residential neighborhood filled with local business and restaurants, and is named after the oldest Marine corps in the nation.
Tatiana Contreras, manager of Call Your Mother bakery in the Barracks Row community, prepares coffee on January 3, 2023 in Washington, DC. Barracks Row is a residential neighborhood filled with local business and restaurants, and is named after the oldest Marine corps in the nation.
Article

Automated Retirement Plans Reduce Taxpayer Burden

Quick View
Article

A new study finds that Americans’ insufficient retirement savings will significantly affect every state and the federal government over the next 20 years, resulting in increased public assistance costs, reduced tax revenue, decreased household spending and standards of living, and lower employment.

OUR WORK

National Homeownership Month

Article

37 Researchers Working to Transform Biomedical Science

Quick View
Article

Biomedical researchers are on the front lines of scientific innovation. From responding to global pandemics to pioneering lifesaving cancer treatments, these researchers push past scientific boundaries to solve pressing health challenges. For nearly 40 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has supported more than 1,000 early-career biomedical scientists committed to this discovery.

Flip to find out

59%

Flip to find out

59% of employers say costs and lack of resources prevent them from offering retirement benefits TWEET

Flip to find out

48%

Flip to find out

48% of private sector workers do not have access to a retirement plan at work TWEET
PODCAST

The American Family: The Not So Golden Years

Quick View
PODCAST

After all the hard work and child rearing, do Americans get to finally relax and retire with some financial stability? Research shows the golden age of retirement doesn’t always shine.

Automatic Enrollment
Automatic Enrollment
Article

Automatic Enrollment Can Boost Retirement Plan Participation

Quick View
Article

Automatic enrollment of workers into retirement plans is changing how Americans save for their post-working years. Enrolling new employees automatically increases plan participation dramatically by eliminating the need for action by the worker.

Freelancers, Sole Proprietors, and Other Nontraditional Workers Have Little Retirement Savings
Freelancers, Sole Proprietors, and Other Nontraditional Workers Have Little Retirement Savings
Article

Nontraditional Workers Have Little Retirement Savings

Quick View
Article

A large proportion of nontraditional workers—sometimes known as contingent, gig, alternative, or independent workers—do not have access to workplace plans to save for their retirements, according to a survey conducted for The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.