Illinois Introduces Automatic Retirement Savings Program, a First for the Nation (New York Times)

By Josh Barro

Illinois is taking a novel approach to getting its residents to save for retirement. Starting in 2017, most state residents with jobs who don’t already have a retirement plan at work will be automatically enrolled in individual retirement accounts, funded through a 3 percent deduction from their paychecks.

The program will be created under a law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday. Participation will be voluntary, but workers who don’t want to save will need to opt out manually. (They will also be allowed to save more than 3 percent if they wish.) An estimate produced by the plan’s backers found that up to two million of the state’s residents may end up with the accounts.

The plan, called Secure Choice, aims at a gap in America’s retirement saving system: Employer-based savings plans are supposed to be an important source of Americans’ retirement income, but large employers are far more likely to offer such plans than small ones. The plan is similar to one President Obama has advocated at the federal level, and if it is successful in getting more people to save, it may end up being a model for other states and the federal government.

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