Strengthening Retirement Security for Low and Middle-Income Workers

Adopted at the 91st Annual Meeting in 2023

  • WHEREAS, retirement insecurity in America is a pervasive challenge: roughly half of all households risk seeing a decline in their standard of living in retirement, and a quarter of non-retired adults have $0 in retirement savings; and

    WHEREAS, retirement accounts are the largest source of aggregate wealth for American households; and

    WHEREAS, the average family in the bottom wealth quartile saw the value of their retirement assets decline by 20 percent between 2010 and 2019; and

    WHEREAS, savings disparities are in part caused by a lack of access to employer-sponsored retirement plans, as 60 million Americans do not have access to a workplace retirement plan, including 68 percent of Hispanic workers, 52 percent of Black workers, and 40 percent of white workers; and

    WHEREAS, current federal retirement incentives are poorly targeted to lower-income workers, as evidenced by the fact that the bottom 40 percent of households by income receive a mere 6 percent of federal U.S. retirement-related tax expenditures; and

    WHEREAS, Social Security provides a bedrock of support for millions of retired Americans but was never designed to be the sole source of retirement income, and should instead be complemented with other policies to promote retirement security and build intergenerational wealth, including for lower-income Americans; and

    WHEREAS, retirement savings gaps exacerbate wealth disparities. The median Black and Hispanic family holds just $24,100 and $36,050 in wealth, respectively, compared to $189,100 for the median white family; and

    WHEREAS, improving access to retirement savings plans would promote economic mobility by empowering low- and middle-income workers to accumulate long-term wealth that can be passed on to their heirs; and

    WHEREAS, the federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a model proven to provide retirement security and spur wealth creation thanks to key design features like auto-enrollment and matching contributions,

    NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to enact solutions aimed at strengthening retirement security and promoting market participation and wealth creation among low- and middle-income workers; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Congress should consider establishing a TSP-type program for workers who lack access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, including matching federal incentives to low- and middle-income workers, as a way to promote asset ownership and retirement security, reward work and savings, and improve the well-being of millions of hard-working Americans.

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