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Illinois to Mandate I.R.A.’s? Homerun or Strikeout?

Homerun or strikeout?  From the Upshot:

Illinois is taking a novel approach to getting its residents to save for retirement. Starting in 2017, most state residents who don’t already have a retirement plan at work will be automatically enrolled in individual retirement accounts, funded through a 3 percent deduction from their paychecks.

The program will be created under a law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday. Participation will be voluntary, but workers who don’t want to save will need to opt out manually. (They will also be allowed to save more than 3 percent if they wish.) An estimate produced by the plan’s backers found that up to two million of the state’s residents may end up with the accounts.

The plan, called Secure Choice, aims at a gap in America’s retirement saving system: Employer-based savings plans are supposed to be an important source of Americans’ retirement income, but large employers are far more likely to offer such plans than small ones. The plan is similar to one President Obama has advocated at the federal level, and if it is successful in getting more people to save, it may end up being a model for other states and the federal government.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 85 percent of Americans who work full time at employers with 100 or more employees have access to a retirement plan at work; just half of full-time workers at smaller organizations do. Lack of access to employer-based plans is one of the reasons middle-income Americans tend to have not saved enough for retirement.

Just 52 percent of households headed by a worker aged 55 to 64 had a 401(k) account in 2013, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College; the median balance among households nearing retirement that had accounts was just $111,000.   More…

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