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Survey: Strong Support Continues for Ore. Retirement Program

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After a year in existence, workers have saved more than $4.5 million through the OregonSaves retirement program. (angieyoyo/Twenty20)
After a year in existence, workers have saved more than $4.5 million through the OregonSaves retirement program. (angieyoyo/Twenty20)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR - Producer, Contact
September 5, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. — Support for Oregon's retirement savings program remains high, according to a new survey.

OregonSaves, an alternative savings program for workers whose employers don't offer retirement plans, began phasing in a year ago. Since then, support for the program has grown, DHM Research shows, with more than 8-in-10 Oregonians supporting or strongly supporting the program.

Vice president of the research firm, John Horvick, said this type of overwhelming backing is rare for public policies.

"I'm a pollster. I'm asking Oregonians questions about public policy matters all the time,” Horvick said. “To get something this high – nearly universal support for a program – is quite remarkable. So, this program really does stand out as having broad support across the state."

In a survey commissioned by AARP Oregon, DHM polled about 1,000 working-age Oregonians, following up on a similar survey from last year, and found support rose slightly, from 79 to 82 percent. According to the State Treasury, savings topped $4.5 million and more than 30,000 people signed up in the first year of OregonSaves.

Horvick said many Oregonians are anxious about retirement. Sixty five percent of respondents feel at least some anxiety that they might not have enough money to make it through their retirement years.

Many still lack access to retirement plans as well, with about 20 percent of people saying a program isn't available through their workplace. The unfortunate numbers go up for young people, at about 25 percent, and for employees who make $50,000 a year or less, at more than 30 percent.

Horvick said Oregonians with low incomes have the most to gain from OregonSaves.

"Those are the employees and the workers and Oregonians who it's especially important to give them that opportunity to be able to save,” he said; “and to do so early in their lives, so that they can maximize those benefits."

Horvick noted most respondents feel retirement is good for the state as well. More than three-quarters say they are concerned that some Oregonians who haven't saved for retirement could become reliant on public assistance programs.

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