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Survey: Overwhelming Support for Ore. Retirement Program

An estimated 1 million employees will be eligible for Oregon's first-of-its-kind retirement savings program, OregonSaves. (Ken Teegardin/Flickr)
An estimated 1 million employees will be eligible for Oregon's first-of-its-kind retirement savings program, OregonSaves. (Ken Teegardin/Flickr)
October 26, 2017

SALEM, Ore. – New research finds overwhelming support for Oregon's new retirement savings program.

OregonSaves is an alternative to workers whose employers don't offer a retirement savings option, giving employees the chance to sock away part of their paycheck and also bring those savings to other jobs if they want.

DHM Research conducted the survey for AARP Oregon and found nearly 80 percent of respondents support or strongly support this idea.

OregonSaves is now conducting a pilot program.

DHM Vice President John Horvick says support for the program comes from Oregonians' anxiety over retirement savings, and also the potential benefits it could have for taxpayers.

"Oregonians are concerned that if folks don't have enough money for retirement, that taxpayers are going to have to support them with social services,” he states. “And there's an interest, just from a taxpayer perspective, to make sure that folks are saving for retirement."

Horvick offers the caveat that only about 1 in 5 Oregonians surveyed had heard specifically of OregonSaves, though the program was described to respondents.

An estimated 1 million Oregonians will potentially be eligible.

Critics say it could be burdensome for business owners, who must choose whether to opt out.

Judy Beebe is head of MicroEnterprise Resources, Initiatives and Training or MERIT, a nonprofit organization in Salem that consults small businesses. She says MERIT has had a different experience with OregonSaves.

MERIT joined the pilot program in July. Beebe says because MERIT makes do on a shoestring budget, it isn't able to offer benefits.

"This was a great way to be able to offer a benefit to our employees,” she states. “And our employees love it because they didn't have to think about what kind of plan to sign up for, or how to invest the money. It was a very simple process."

Savings come out of employees' paychecks.

Beebe says MERIT now recommends the program to the businesses it works with.

OregonSaves is not connected to the Public Employees Retirement System.


Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR