By Brian Tumulty
Gannett News Service
WASHINGTON - American workers need to increase their financial literacy and save more money if they are to guarantee a financially secure retirement, an organization representing large U.S. employers said Wednesday.
The report by the American Benefits Council, called "Safe and Sound: A 10-Year Plan for Promoting Personal Financial Security," warns that many workers face reduced living standards in retirement with only Social Security benefits to support them.
It recommends actions by employers, workers and the federal government to promote private savings and avoid a scenario in which taxpayers will be called upon to support the millions of baby boomers who will retire in the next decade.
Rep. John Boehner, the Ohio Republican who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee, said he hopes Congress will use the report to enact a major overhaul of the nation's pension laws by the end of 2005.
"It helps us to develop a long-term vision about the types of issues we need to deal with before developing legislation," Boehner told the organization at a joint news conference. Congress has enacted a patchwork of laws over the last 20 years, he said.
Rep. Rob Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat who serves on Boehner's committee, said the report should be used to develop a bipartisan approach to dealing with retirement and health care issues. "I think it is possible to rid this discussion of its partisan edge," said Andrews. "I think it's necessary.''
Promoting need for savings
Highlights of the report's goals for the year 2014:
Increase the percentage of American households that have taken the first step of calculating their retirement income needs from 37 percent to 75 percent.
Increase the number of Americans with employer-sponsored retirement plans from 50 million to 96 million.
Increase the nation's personal savings rate to 15 percent. Encourage Americans to save between 7 and 15 percent of their income for retirement.
Bring health inflation down to the single digits.
Have at least half of the nation's workers enrolled in health plans that provide comparative information on the quality of services provided by different physicians, hospitals and other providers.
Increase the percentage of Americans with health insurance to 91 percent, reducing by half the percentage of non-elderly Americans without coverage.
Enact tax preferences that will encourage employers to provide health coverage to retirees.
Overhaul Medicare so that retiree coverage is more comprehensive and has affordable options for private health plans with supplemental coverage.
Increase by 50 percent the availability of stock ownership plans for employees at publicly traded companies.
On the Web: American Benefits Council
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