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AARP AARP States North Carolina Advocacy

A Boost for Worker Savings?

Saving for Retirement

Nearly half of North Carolina’s private-sector workers—more than 1.8 million people—don’t have a way to save for retirement through their employers. AARP hopes to change that by pushing for the creation of a state-facilitated retirement savings program during the upcoming legislative session.

Under a bill introduced in the state House last year, North Carolina would establish a new retirement savings program for private-sector workers, overseen by the state and run by a private firm. Any employer that does not offer a retirement plan would be eligible to enroll and set up automatic payroll deductions for its workers. The funds would go into a Roth IRA.

It would be voluntary for employers and employees alike. Workers could take the account with them if they switched jobs.

It has “a real chance” of passing the state legislature in the session that begins in late April, says state Rep. Jarrod Lowery (R-Robeson), a sponsor of the bill. “When people aren’t prepared for retirement, the taxpayers usually bridge the gap between Social Security and essentials like food, housing and health care,” he notes.

Chris Brandenburg, AARP North Carolina’s associate state director for advocacy, says the bill is vital because many state residents don’t have adequate retirement savings.

“Social Security alone is not enough for folks to be able to get by,” he says. The average Social Security benefit for retirees in North Carolina was $1,828 per month in December 2022.

As of Jan. 1, 2024, 15 states already offer or have approved automatic workplace retirement savings programs, according to the Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives. Another four have programs that are voluntary for employers, as is the case with the North Carolina proposal.

—Mary Dieter

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