Retirement Plan Access Varies Widely by State

There are additional variations based on industry, gender, age and other demographics.

Wide differences in access to and participation in employer-based retirement plans exist across states, with variations by employer size and industry type as well as by workers’ income, age, education, race and ethnicity, according to a report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The report, “Who’s In, Who’s Out: A Look at Access to Employer-Based Retirement Plans and Participation in the States,” found that 61% of workers in Wisconsin participate in an employer-based pension or retirement savings plan, compared with 38% in Florida. Access and participation is higher in the Midwest, New England, and parts of the Pacific Northwest—and lower in the South and West.

The report also finds that among Hispanic workers, access to a plan is around 25 percentage points below that for white non-Hispanic workers (38% vs. 63%, respectively). Black and Asian workers also report lower rates of access than white workers.    

John Scott, director of Pew’s retirement savings project, notes that half of the states are looking at their own solutions. See “Road Ahead for Auto-IRAs and Open MEPs”   

Overall, Pew’s analysis, based on a pooled version of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), found that 58% of private sector workers have access to a plan, while 49% participate in one. Pew also found that more than 30 million full-time, full-year, private sector workers ages 18 to 64 lack access to an employer-based retirement plan, whether a traditional pension or a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k).