Congress should consider giving states some flexibility in designing programs to expand private-sector access to retirement savings plans without worrying about ERISA pre-emption, said a new report from the Government Accountability Office released Tuesday.
The report looks at recent estimates of workplace retirement savings program coverage, strategies used by states and other countries to expand coverage among private-sector workers and challenges that states could face under existing federal law and regulations. Federal agencies that enforce those laws and regulations “generally agreed with GAO's recommendations,” GAO said. The Labor Department drafted proposed rules Sept. 3 to guide states as they set up workplace-based retirement programs.
The report, requested by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is the first retirement access study to match the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation and confidential IRS data. It found that nearly half of private-sector workers do not have a retirement plan through their employer.
“Expanding access to workplace retirement plans is a key step in helping more workers grow their savings and building our economy from the middle out, not the top down,” Ms. Murray said in an e-mailed statement.
The report is on GAO's website.