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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

Most Texans Don't Save Enough For Retirement Because They Don't Have Access To Plans

Dane Walters
In 2014, KERA met Shirley Martin, who then at age 73, was still working as a Walmart greeter five days a week because retirement was out of reach.

Most Texans don’t save enough money for retirement, according to a new study from the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities

The report focuses on full-time private sector workers in Texas, and only half are covered by a workplace retirement savings plan. Laura Rosen, the senior policy analyst at Austin organization, says there are many reasons for the shortfall. A big one: Employers find it too "costly to provide workers with a retirement plan and face barriers to offering employees retirement at work," she said.

Interview Highlights

On why the numbers differ between regions: In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 54 percent of workers have access to retirement plans at work, but in McAllen, it's only 23 percent. "Metro areas with lower access than the national average tend to have higher rates of workers that are least likely to have access to a plan, and those workers include workers working for small businesses, low-wage workers, and so the McAllen area has lower wages than the national average," Rosen said.

On those who have trouble setting up retirement plans: Along with low-wage workers, younger workers (under 45), workers with less education as well as Hispanic, black and Asian workers have lower rates of access to retirement plans. Rosen explains says the reasons vary for each group.

"For example, Hispanics, overall there is a younger age of Hispanic workers in the workforce, and the fact that Hispanics are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs, which generally tend to have fewer benefits. In terms of younger workers, [they] tend to also when they're starting they're careers; not be in jobs that are providing as many benefits."

On how much people should be saving for retirement: According to the report, the average private sector worker in Texas has just $32,000 saved in a retirement account. Rosen says many financial advisors recommend workers have 10 times they're desired yearly income.  

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.
Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.