Washington Voluntary Accounts: A cure for retirement security

In just the last year, we have seen a mortgage loan crisis, banks failing, and the stock market plunge. It’s no wonder that American’s are concerned about their retirement security.

A recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute shows that the percentage of workers who feel very confident that they will have a comfortable retirement has plummeted from 27 percent a year ago to 18 percent this year. This 9 percent drop is the largest one year drop in the 18-year history of the survey.

As you might expect, younger workers and those with lower incomes felt the least secure, which is why EOI has taken on retirement security as priority policy area. We have championed the idea of Washington Voluntary Accounts (WVAs) and helped secure funding in the 2007 legislature to design this program.

The WA State Department of Retirement Systems is designing the program to support small businesses and individuals that currently don’t have a retirement plan at their place of work.

WVAs take advantage of the infrastructure the state has in place to invest money for state and local government employees, and the buying power that results from having numerous individuals and businesses pool their investment dollars.

WVAs won’t cure the ills of Wall Street or the banking industry, and there will always be booms and busts in the economy and stock market. But the program will make it easier for small businesses and individuals to ride the waves of the economy and thoughtfully invest for a more secure retirement.

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