WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced it has awarded a total of $153,836 in grants to organizations to support the planning and research of portable retirement benefit plans for low-wage workers.
Administered by the department’s Women’s Bureau, the awards are funded by the Portable Retirement Benefits Planning grant program. The program’s ultimate goal is to assist those workers – particularly women and others in low-wage occupations – who lack access to an employer-provided retirement benefits program, are less likely to have pension or asset-related income.
Changes in the workplace – workers moving more frequently between jobs, being paid as independent contractors or holding more than one job – have increased the need to find ways to allow millions of workers the ability to take benefits from job to job and build greater retirement security.
The grants announced today will be awarded to the following recipients:
- The Brazilian Worker Center, Inc. in Allston, Massachusetts, will receive $25,000 to conduct research to inform the development of a prototype mobile platform to provide benefits, including retirement benefits, to predominantly low-wage, non-benefited domestic- and direct-care workers.
- The Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights in Chicago will receive $75,000 to conduct a needs assessment of Illinois’ economically vulnerable, low-wage, and underserved workers without access to an employer-provided retirement savings plan. The organization will also conduct research to identify barriers to participation in the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program faced by low-wage workers and underserved workers.
- The Fair Work Center in Seattle will receive $53,836 to conduct a needs assessment among low-wage workers, employers and benefits providers to understand the challenges and barriers low-wage workers currently face in saving for retirement.
“Ensuring economic security for America’s workers, especially women and low-wage workers, is our mission at the U.S. Labor Department,” said Women’s Bureau Director Latifa Lyles. “Today’s announcement is another step toward our goal of supporting innovation in bringing retirement security to America’s lowest paid workers.”
Retirement security is essential to ensuring American workers’ long-term economic security. However, retirement wealth has not kept pace with the Nation’s aging population and other economic and demographic changes. Today, almost one in three workers lacks access to a retirement savings plan, including half of workers at firms with fewer than 50 employees and sixty-three percent of part-time workers. Furthermore, the issue is particularly relevant to women - according to the Social Security Administration, 49 percent of all elderly unmarried females receiving Social Security benefits relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.