Many Americans struggle to save for retirement. As we’ve discussed before, roughly half of working Americans do not have access to a retirement savings plan through their employer. Even for those who do have access, many are contributing too little to an inadequate 401(k) plan. The number of working Americans with access to a traditional pension has declined significantly over the past three decades. According to a survey from the National Institute of Retirement Security (NIRS), three-fourths of Americans are worried about their ability to retire securely. One group that is particularly affected by this retirement savings crisis is Latino retirees, who live longer, but have lower savings rates than other groups.
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only a third of Latino workers have access to a retirement savings plan through their employer, lower than for any other demographic group. In part, this is because Latinos are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don’t offer 401(k)s or other savings options. Even for Latinos who do work in full-time jobs, they are less likely to be offered a retirement plan than either white or black workers. As we’ve mentioned before, Latinos are the least likely demographic group to have access to a traditional pension. While white and black working Americans have nearly the same level of pension participation, for Latinos it is much lower.
Latino retirees, both men and women, live longer than any other demographic group. Their longer lifespans present an added challenge to retirement savings because they must save for more years of retirement. When long lifespans are combined with low savings rates, it makes retirement security particularly difficult to achieve.
What is to be done? The most important step is to increase access to retirement savings plans, especially traditional pensions. This would help everyone, not just Latinos. In fact, according to the NIRS survey, 77 percent of Americans say the decline in pensions has made it more difficult to achieve the American dream. Latinos are underrepresented in the public sector, where defined benefit pensions are more common. For those who do work in the public sector, it’s essential that we protect pensions for them as well as advocating to expand access for those who do not.