WASHINGTON — On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, many of the nation's leading pension experts are participating in an ambitious effort to expand coverage of employer-sponsored retirement and pension plans.
Coverage has been stagnant — at roughly 50% of private-sector workers — for the past two decades. In 2003, 57% of private-sector workers were eligible to participate in employer-sponsored pension or retirement plans, but only 50.5 million of the 103 million total private sector workers, or 49%, actually participated in one.
The Pension Rights Center, a Washington-based participants group that launched the project in 2001, anticipates it will ultimately succeed in the goal to "significantly increase" retirement and pension plan coverage to millions of low- and middle-income workers.
"One thing is sure — that a great deal will happen next," said Karen Ferguson, director of the Pension Rights Center, commenting on the draft recommendations unveiled last month by experts participating in the project. "There is a recognition that expanding pension coverage is a major national issue that can and must be addressed," she said.