Solving the Retirement Crisis in West Virginia

VERA cover

 

As thousands of West Virginians approach retirement age, workplace retirement plans, along with Social Security and personal savings, are of growing importance. A secure retirement allows retired workers to live independently, pay for healthcare, and continue to contribute to the state’s economy. Read PDF of the report.

But in West Virginia, more than 349,000 workers, over half of the private-sector workforce, do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Of those 349,000, more than 287,000, or 82 percent, do not have access to a workplace retirement plan, as their employers do not offer one.

The lack of access to retirement savings is a growing problem for West Virginia, particularly as the population ages. To address the lack of access to retirement savings among West Virginia workers, the state could sponsor a system of Voluntary Employee Retirement Accounts (VERAs), which would expand access to retirement plans to all employees and employers who wish to participate. VERAs would give workers an affordable and portable option to save for their retirement and give businesses the option to offer more benefits, increasing retirement security while making the state a more attractive place to live, work, and do business.

Key Findings:

  • Only 30 percent of workers working for small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) are offered a retirement plan by their employer.
  • Over 66 percent of low-wage workers (less than $25,000/year) work for an employer who does not offer a retirement plan.
  • A lack of access to retirement savings has led to a growing reliance on Social Security as a source of income for West Virginia’s seniors, particularly for low-income seniors.
  • Young workers are less likely to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
  • Less than 40 percent of working women are included in a workplace retirement plan.
  • While the share of workers who are offered retirement plans by their employer has increased in recent years, it remains below historical levels.

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© 2018 West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy