By Beth Finkel
AARP New York State Director
Generation X turned 50 this year. While that’s young, it is not too young to start planning seriously for retirement.
But when AARP New York surveyed voters in the five boroughs, we discovered the following:
• 78 percent of New York City’s Gen Xers worry about not saving enough.
• 34 percent have no savings at all.
• 23 percent are not confident that they will ever be able to retire.
Key worries are even more pronounced among the city’s African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American populations, with 29 percent, 32 percent and 28 percent of the Gen Xers in those groups, respectively, not confident they’ll ever be able to retire.
But perhaps the most troubling finding is that two-thirds of the Gen Xers surveyed are considering fleeing the Big Apple in retirement.
The lack of retirement preparedness makes sense in light of the fact that Generation X is the first to face a new retirement playbook, with traditional pensions mostly a thing of the past and their retirements contingent upon their own saving efforts.
We need Generation X to see New York City not just as their current home, but as a desirable place to age. That’s why AARP NY is fighting for affordable housing, and for in-home services that support family caregivers in their efforts to help loved ones live in their homes and communities as long as possible. But that won’t be enough to keep Gen Xers here.
Gen Xers, and all New Yorkers, need help to save for retirement so they’re financially independent and able to afford to stay here.
Incredibly, more than half of this state’s private sector workforce – over 3.6 million working people – have no access to any retirement savings plan through their employer.
That’s why we’re urging a state-facilitated retirement savings option that would be available to virtually all New Yorkers. This “Work and Save” plan would be modeled on the state’s highly successful 529 college savings program, with no ongoing taxpayer costs.
When we asked about that idea in our New York City survey, we got some encouraging numbers: 82 percent of the city’s Gen Xers and 74 percent of Boomers who lack access to employer-sponsored retirement savings plans would enroll in “Work and Save” if they had the option.
Let’s hope our policy makers see the wisdom in establishing a plan that reduces reliance on public assistance, gives businesses a tool to remain competitive in attracting workers, helps New Yorkers help themselves – and will hopefully stem what we’re calling a potential “Gen Xodus.”