Colorado Finally Launches A Retirement Savings Program For Everyone

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Denver Post, The
Will you have enough money in retirement? It’s great to look forward to retirement, but how much is needed, and what tools can help us get there?

It takes more than just Social Security to cover the 80% of your pre-retirement annual income, which is what financial advisers recommend. A smart retirement plan is designed to take care of your post-retirement days and help you lead a stress-free life. Everyone deserves a dignified and sustainable retirement. There is no better time to start taking steps to ensure your retirement is secure.

ElderWatch did a survey in April 2021 that found 55% of Coloradans over 50 wished they had started saving before age 25. The same survey found 23% of employed Coloradans over 50, with incomes under $75,000, said their current employer did not offer a way to save for retirement. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Confidence Survey, 45% of workers ages 55 or older have less than $100,000 in savings and investments.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, that won’t go very far once they’ve stopped working. And the issue of retirement security is heightened for people of color and women.

The racial retirement gap refers to the economic inequalities Black, brown and Indigenous Coloradans face as they plan for retirement. Racial gaps in retirement security were large before the coronavirus struck, and the economic disruptions caused by the health pandemic likely will worsen the problem. Because Black Coloradans and people of color are paid significantly less than their white counterparts, they have fewer opportunities to build their savings and invest.

Wealth begets wealth. The Black Lives Matters movement across Colorado and the country last summer prompted a statewide conversation about ways to correct these economic inequities. Those inequities don’t end when people retire.

Gender exacerbates the gap. The average woman in the United States earned 81.6 cents to every dollar men earned in 2019. The gap is even wider for women of color. Black women in 2018 were paid 62% of what non-Latino white men were paid.

So what can be done?

Colorado’s new Secure Savings Program is a retirement plan for private-sector workers who do not have access to workplace retirement savings plans. The plan will offer an accessible retirement savings option to almost 1 million Coloradans and their families, more than 40% of the state’s workforce, who do not have access to a retirement savings account or plan at work.

Secure Savings is a win for employees, employers and taxpayers. It provides a pathway to economic security in retirement, allows employers to offer a competitive benefit at no cost with minimal administrative burden, and saves taxpayers money. In Colorado, those tax savings add up to as much as $18 billion over the next 15 years.

Workers, including people who are self-employed and seasonal, will have an easy way to save for their future. Instead of being tied to the employer, the Secure Savings Program is tied to and travels with employees as they move to different jobs. Employees can opt out if they choose. This will be one of the largest programs in the state’s history to help lift folks out of generational poverty.

The program will be administered at no cost to employers, with no employer fees or fiduciary liability. The administrative burden will be minimal, with no employer matching contributions, and it will be compatible with payroll systems. This allows small and medium businesses to be competitive with a full benefits compensation package. Employers will have the option of sponsoring their own plans or enrolling in the Colorado Secure Savings Program.

The cost of doing nothing is astronomical — almost $18 billion, or half the state budget — which is why we are excited for the rollout of this program in October 2022.

For information, go to our website at

Dave Young is the state treasurer.