Ask any presidential candidate and they’ll tell you that immigration is a major issue in the 2016 campaign. Immigration, however, is not the only issue of concern to the Latino community. Retirement security deserves serious consideration as Latinos have lower rates of retirement security than any other demographic group in the United States. This is particularly concerning since Latinos have a longer life expectancy than other groups and, therefore, face a greater risk of retiring in poverty.
The numbers are startling. Four out of five Hispanic households have less than $10,000 in retirement savings and 69 percent of working age Hispanic households do not own assets in a retirement account. In part, this is because only 38 percent of Latino employees work for employers that sponsor retirement plans. And just 12 percent of Latino households are covered by a pension plan.
Those are a lot of numbers, but basically what it means is this: Latinos are the least likely group to have access to a retirement plan at work and this is because they are more likely to work at a low-wage job in the private sector that does not sponsor retirement plans. However, when Latinos do work in the public sector, they are significantly more likely to have access to a job-based retirement plan. Unfortunately, only 10 percent of Latinos work in the public sector where they are more likely to have access to a defined benefit pension.
Another hurdle for Latino workers is that their earnings are likely to be lower than whites of the same age and gender. So even if they do have access to a retirement plan and are participating, they have less to contribute due to their lower wages. We discussed last week the value of defined benefit pensions for low-income workers.
It will require a multifaceted approach to improve retirement security for Latinos in the U.S. The advocacy coalition Latinos for a Secure Retirement offers a number of policy proposals, including strengthening Social Security and improving access to retirement accounts. In the meantime, it’s clear that our elected officials need to take action to improve retirement security for all Americans.