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Retirement Un-Readiness: New Report Warns of ‘Downward Mobility’ for NY Near-Retirees

The Retirement Crisis in NY report cover
41% of Middle Class Headed Toward Poverty or Near-Poverty in Retirement; NYers of Color Face Starkest Inequities as AARP Looks to #DisruptDisparities

NEW YORK, N.Y. – More than two of every five middle class New Yorkers in their 50s are headed for poverty or near-poverty in retirement.

Typical workers in the bottom 90 percent of earnings will need almost a third more income in retirement to maintain their standard of living.

And fewer workers of color have access to workplace retirement savings option than whites – escalating their potential for experiencing ‘downward mobility.’

Those are the findings of a new report by The New School’s Retirement Equity Lab (ReLab), which shows 825,000 middle class New Yorkers nearing retirement are on the path to downward mobility in their post-working years. The Retirement Crisis in New York sounds an urgent warning about retirement for current and future generations of New Yorkers in an economy in which fewer employers offer their workers pensions or any kind of retirement savings options.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers this year enacted “Secure Choice,” which will offer private companies that don’t currently provide their employees a retirement savings plan the option to offer their workers a payroll-deduction Individual Retirement Account. AARP and partners are exploring next steps to ensure a strong Secure Choice program and other options as part of AARP’s multi-year campaign to #DisruptDisparities impacting communities of color.

The New School report was released this evening during a forum sponsored by AARP and Relab at The New School that convened experts and local leaders to brainstorm potential solutions as part of #DisruptDisparities, launched this year by AARP in partnership with the Hispanic Federation, Asian American Federation, NAACP of New York and New York Urban League.

“We knew retirement troubles were coming as more employers stopped offering retirement options, but this report is a disturbing eye-opener – particularly for New Yorkers of color,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “Governor Cuomo and state legislators took a great step with ‘Secure Choice’ this year – and we took another great step tonight by brainstorming with great partners on additional solutions.”

“About a million middle-class older workers in New York State will have to learn how to be poor because they have no retirement plans but Social Security,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, Professor of Economics and Director of The New School’s Retirement Equity Lab. “People of color and women will have the hardest time in retirement, but white men too have inadequate retirement plans. No one is safe.”

“According to New Economy Project’s research, most retired New Yorkers of color have incomes near the poverty line and significantly less income from retirement savings than white New Yorkers," said Alexis Iwanisziw, Deputy Director of New Economy Project. “New York must take action now to address root causes and manifestations of economic inequality, poverty, and segregation, which drive these disparities.”

The report found that of 2 million older workers in New York State ages 50-60 and their spouses who are not poor or near poor, 825,000 (41%) will fall into poverty or near poverty when they retire at 62; two-thirds of workers both nationwide and in New York State in the bottom half of income distribution have no pension and nothing in retirement accounts; and the median account balance for workers ages 55-64 is just $18,000 in New York State. Additionally, workplace retirement plan coverage remains lower for Hispanic (34%) and Asian (34%) workers than for white (46%) and black (42%) workers.

AARP New York launched its #DisruptDisparities campaign in January with the Hispanic Federation, the Asian American Federation, the NAACP of New York and the New York Urban League. AARP urges members of the public to submit ideas and suggestions.

Those interested in following or joining the conversation can visit which will serve as a platform to host the latest research findings, policy updates and information related to this effort, and a place to contribute ideas and insights (by emailing ) .

Contact: Erik Kriss,

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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.



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