Small businesses pushing NY to set up retirement plans for workers in need

Dec 22, 2016
Originally published on December 21, 2016 8:34 pm

A wide range of organizations across New York state are urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to push for a state-administered workplace retirement savings option, as part of his 2017-2018 state budget proposal next month.

Two-thirds of New York’s small businesses want the state to set up a privately managed retirement savings plan for their employees, according to a study by AARP New York, since many of the companies said they can not afford to offer a plan on their own. 

“We decided to go out and ask the businesses themselves how they actually feel about this,” said Beth Finkel, state director for AARP New York.

AARP New York has been talking with the governor’s office for the last two years, trying to get the retirement plan in place. Through her role in Cuomo’s Saving More to Achieve Richer Tomorrows (SMART) Commission, Finkel and others are asking him to propose an auto-enrollment plan that would help employers alleviate costs typically associated with offering a retirement plan to employees.

“People will be 15 times more likely to save for retirement if it automatically comes out of their paycheck,” Finkel said, “That's why that component to the plan is so important to us.”

Finkel said roughly 3.5 million New York workers are going to be ill-prepared for retirement. More than half of all private sector employees in the state, including over 60 percent of millennials and 67 percent of Hispanic people lack access to a pension or 401(k) at work.

“For them, I don't know how they will ever afford retirement. So, are we telling them they need to keep working until they drop?” Finkel said.

More than 450 business owners participated in the telephone survey.

Requests from WXXI News for comment from Greater Rochester Enterprise, an economic development organization in the region, and Unshackle Upstate, a group of business leaders working to make Upstate New York a stronger place to do business, were denied.