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AARP AARP States Michigan Work & Jobs

Michiganders support new state retirement savings option

Paula Cunningham 2019.JPEG
AARP Michigan State Director Paula D. Cunningham

Michigan voters, who are anxious about having enough money for retirement, are supportive of a state retirement savings option to help workers save on the job, according to a new poll of state voters ages 25-64, released by AARP today. 

The survey shows two in three support a public-private managed Michigan retirement savings program and 83 percent agree policymakers should make it easier for workers to save for retirement.

For more highlights from the AARP poll, visit:

Almost half of Michigan’s private sector employees, about 1.69 million, work for an employer that does not offer a retirement plan, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute study. Eight in 10 poll respondents who don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at work say they would take advantage of one if it was available, the survey indicates.

Six in 10 Michigan registered voters feel either somewhat anxious or very anxious about having enough money to live comfortably in their retirement years.

“Michiganders are working as hard as ever, but many do not have a way to save for retirement,” said Paula D. Cunningham, State Director of AARP Michigan. “These survey results show that a large majority of Michiganders support a program that would provide workers a way to save for retirement at their jobs.”

Among the survey’s other key findings: 

  • Half of Michigan adults ages 25-64 say, per their own self-assessment, that they are behind schedule in their planning and saving for retirement.
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents (86%) say they know it’s very important for them to save for retirement. Other things, like their current living expenses, seem to keep getting in the way.
  • Three in four Michigan registered voters are concerned about increases in their cost-of-living expenses reducing their standard of living.
  • 42 percent are not confident they will have enough money to cover health care expenses in their retirement years.

Voters support a voluntary work and save program – a common sense solution for the private sector workers who do not currently have access to a workplace savings plan.  They believe Michigan legislators should take action to help make Michigan businesses more competitive and to give employees an easier way to save for retirement on their own terms as they may move from job to job.
Work and save is a practical solution to make automatic payroll deduction retirement savings easier for employees and less costly for small businesses. There are a variety of approaches to this. One would set up a public-private partnership between the state and a professional financial institution. AARP is asking policymakers to look at how the state could use federal American Rescue Plan dollars to cover one-time startup costs. The program would be voluntary for workers and employers.

Similar public-private retirement savings programs have already been set up in Oregon, California, and Illinois. 

“Today, a secure retirement is out of reach for over 1.6 million Michiganders, especially those who work for themselves or for small businesses.  The results of this poll speak to the anxiety that many have regarding their financial security in retirement,” Cunningham said. “Without the ability to save, many Michiganders face retiring into poverty. These poll results show how important it is to give an opportunity for a more secure retirement to future retirees.”

The AARP 2021 Michigan Retirement Security Study was a telephone study among 616 registered voters age 25 - 64 in Michigan on retirement savings issues. Telephone interviews were conducted from May 7 - May 25, 2021. Margin of error is +/- 4 percent.

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