The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an unemployment rate of 3.1% for workers age 55 and older for the month of July, which represents no change from June.
While the headline unemployment rate for older workers is at an historic low, an increasing share of older workers are in bad jobs with low and stagnant wages. Without access to jobs that allow older workers to save, inadequate savings will condemn many to poverty in retirement.
We have a choice to make. If we do nothing, the number of poor* people over the age of 62 will increase by 25% between 2018 and 2045, from 17.5 million people to 21.8 million. If we implement Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs), the number of poor elderly will decrease by 22% between 2018 and 2045. 8.1 million seniors would be saved from poverty by 2045.
GRAs (proposed in the book, Rescuing Retirement) are universal, individual accounts funded throughout a worker’s career by matching 1.5% contributions from employers and employees and a revenue-neutral $600 refundable tax credit. Contributions would be professionally managed and guaranteed against loss of principal.
Since 1935, Social Security has safeguarded those who worked all their lives from old-age poverty. To fulfill that commitment, Congress and the President need to act quickly to expand Social Security and enact Guaranteed Retirement Accounts.
*Poverty is defined as incomes below 200% of the 2018 Federal Poverty Level, or $24,280 for individuals and $32,960 for couples.
SCEPA’s Retirement Equity Lab (ReLab), led by economist and retirement expert Teresa Ghilarducci, researches the retirement crisis that exposes millions of American workers to downward mobility in retirement.
Public Seminar is a journal of ideas, politics, and culture published by the Public Seminar Publishing Initiative at The New School. We are a non-profit organization, wholly supported by The New School, and by the generosity of our sponsors and readers.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive selections from new issues of Public Seminar.