President Obama, noting that millions of Americans do not have enough savings to cover their retirement, announced a package of initiatives to spur increased savings. The administrative actions, which do not require new legislation from Congress, are intended to make it easier and more automatic for people to put money into tax-advantaged retirement accounts.
“The fact is, even before this recession hit, the savings rate was essentially zero, while borrowing had risen and credit card debt had increased,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly radio address. “Half of America’s work force doesn’t have access to a retirement plan at work. And fewer than 10 percent of those without workplace retirement plans have one of their own.”
Mr. Obama outlined four new initiatives, all of which are based on new behavioral research on ways to encourage people to save in a systematic way. One key finding in that research is that people are more likely to contribute to a retirement savings account, like an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, if they are enrolled automatically. Workers have usually had to sign up for the plan, something that large percentages of people either postponed or never did at all.