POLL: Small Business Owners Say Lack of Retirement Security Threatens the Economy

For Immediate Release: 
June 12, 2013

Only one-third of small businesses offer a retirement plan

**Business Leaders and Small Business Owners Available for Comment**

To view the full survey results, visit: http://bit.ly/RetirementPollReportASBC_MSA

WASHINGTON, DC (June 12, 2013) – On the heels of a Pew study revealing dwindling retirement preparedness for most Americans, a new poll shows that small business owners see threats to business and the economy from the lack of retirement security.

The national scientific poll released today by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and the Main Street Alliance– two national business policy groups – found that 70% of small business owners believe that a lack of retirement security undermines the confidence and willingness to spend among older Americans. Sixty-four percent say that a lack of retirement security can hurt business and the economy by forcing the current generation of workers to devote time and money to the financial support of their aging parents. 

“For small business owners, addressing the retirement security crisis in America is not only about achieving the American Dream for ourselves – it’s also central to the success of our businesses and the overall economy,” said Deb Field, owner of Paperjam Press in Portland, Oregon, and a national steering committee member of the Main Street Alliance. “Simply put, increasing retirement security would fuel greater consumer demand on Main Street – the lifeblood of small business success.”

Despite acute awareness of the impact on the American economy and consumer demand from weak retirement savings, most small business owners do not offer a retirement plan in their own businesses. The poll found only one-third of small business owners currently offer a retirement plan, with the smallest businesses least likely to offer. Owners cited cost as their biggest barrier. 

“This polling shows that small business owners think that current options for offering a retirement plan are too costly,” said Richard Eidlin, Director for Public Policy for ASBC. “It follows that any proposed federal solutions must be low cost and easy to administer if they are to be adopted broadly.” 

In a silver lining for policy makers crafting measures to encourage greater small business participation in retirement saving, the poll found significant interest among small business owners in sponsoring a retirement plan. A total of 60% of small business owners either offer or are interested in offering a plan. 

“We hear from business owners every day, who want to start offering retirement plans or want to expand what they currently offer,” said Denise Bowyer, Vice President at America Income Life Insurance Company. “With the right kind of help from federal and state governments, small businesses can be part of the solution.”

“Many small business owners want to do the right thing for their employees,” said Rob Thomas, founder and President of Social(k), a provider of responsibly and sustainably invested retirement plans. “A few changes in the existing plan designs, such as auto-enrollment, could go a long way toward making them more successful.”

Solutions to this problem are being pursued at both the state and federal levels. For example, California, Oregon and Connecticut are among a number of states considering innovative state-level approaches to improving retirement security. Legislation in California would approach the problem by creating a state-wide system consisting of Individual Retirement Accounts offered on an opt-out basis by employers. Employee Stock Owned Plans are growing in popularity. Nationally, Senator Tom Harkin has proposed instituting a universal private pension plan and enhancing Social Security.

Commenting on the poll results, Senator Harkin said, “I commend ASBC and Main Street Alliance for their important contribution to the policy debate on retirement security. I look forward to using their work to develop practical solutions to the retirement crisis, including making it easier for business owners to provide high-quality, economical pension benefits to their employees.”

The poll, conducted by Lake Research, included 47% Republican, 14% Independent and 27% Democratic small business owners.

Poll results reported here represent findings from a scientific national phone survey of owners of small businesses (with 2 to 99 employees), commissioned by the American Sustainable Business Council and the Main Street Alliance and conducted by Lake Research Partners. The nationwide live phone survey was conducted between March 14-25, 2013. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%.

To view the full survey results, visit: http://bit.ly/RetirementPollReportASBC_MSA

The Main Street Alliance is a national network of state-based small business coalitions. Main Street Alliance and its state affiliates create opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves on issues that impact their businesses and local economies. www.mainstreetalliance.org

The American Sustainable Business Council and its member organizations represent more than 165,000 businesses nationwide, and more than 300,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers, and investors. ASBC informs and engages policy makers and the public about the need and opportunities for building a vibrant and sustainable economy. www.asbcouncil.org

 

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