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New state survey reveals voter anxiety about retirement savings

ACTION ALERT: House Bill 2516, the "Secure Choice Retirment Savings Program" is currently before the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Business. Your elected officials need to hear from you! Please click here to direct a message to your legislators and let them know that a secure retirement should be within everyone's reach.

For Immediate Release
January 27, 2020

Christina Clem / 206-517-9358
Cathy MacCaul / 206-218-5915

AARP Washington survey reveals voter anxiety about retirement savings
New legislation aims to tackle the state’s retirement savings crisis

Olympia, WA – According to a new survey released today, two-thirds (66%) of Washington registered voters feel anxious about having enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years – and for a good reason. AARP’s survey of voters ages 25 to 64 showed that more than a third (35%) have saved less than $25,000 for retirement. Almost one quarter (22%) have less than $5,000 saved.

“Washingtonians are working as hard as ever, but many do not have a way to save for retirement out of their regular paycheck,” said Cathy MacCaul, AARP Washington Advocacy Director. “Our survey shows that nearly all Washington voters (91%) believe it is very important to be able to save for retirement while working. Yet more than 1.1 million Washingtonians work for an employer that does not offer a retirement plan.”

To help tackle Washington’s retirement saving crisis, AARP has launched a series of efforts encouraging workers and employers to contact their legislators in support of HB 2516 - the “Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program” sponsored by Representative Davina Duerr (D). The bill is currently on the Tuesday, January 28 agenda for the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Business.

Hairdresser turning open sign in retro barbershop window

The Secure Choice program is a self-sustaining, easy way for workers to save for the future out of their regular paycheck. Workers can save for retirement on their terms. Employees have full control over how much they want to put away and what they want to invest in. Also, employee retirement savings are portable, allowing the account to follow them even if they change jobs. According to AARP’s survey, ninety-one percent of respondents without a current way to save for retirement say they would take advantage of a workplace savings program if it were available.

“The insurance industry is lobbying hard against this measure, interested more in increasing their sales and bottom lines than in the welfare of Washington workers and small business,” says MacCaul. “That is why AARP Washington is urging House Representatives to pass this legislation to help make businesses in the Evergreen state more competitive and to give more Washington residents an easy way to save for their retirement.” The majority of Washington voters (82%) surveyed by AARP agree that Washington elected officials should support legislation to make it easier for workers to save for retirement.

According to AARP’s survey, more than half (57%) of Washington voters feel they are behind schedule for planning and saving for their retirement. The majority (81%) are concerned that increases to their cost of living expenses will reduce their standard of living in retirement.

“Without better savings options in place, Washington workers are betting their retirement futures on a wish and a prayer,” said MacCaul. More than a quarter of Washington voters (28%) say they plan on starting a new business to make up their savings shortfall. Four-in-ten (43%) say they will need to get a new job. Nearly one-in-five (17%) of respondents are counting on receiving an inheritance, and seven-percent are feeling lucky and say they will win the lottery.

For more findings from the AARP survey, visit


The AARP 2020 Washington Retirement Security Study was a telephone study among 611 registered voters age 25-64 in Washington on retirement savings issues. Interviews were conducted January 10 – January 16, 2020. The sample was drawn from a registered voter list. Half of the interviews were conducted via landline phone and half via cell phone. Percents are rounded to the nearest percentage point. The margin of error is +/- 4.0 percent. All data are weighted by age, gender, and race/ethnicity according to the January 2020 Washington state voter database statistics.

About AARP
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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