One of every six workers has a non-traditional employer-employee relationship. These workers range from independent contractors and consultants to freelancers, temps, and those in the gig economy. Few, if any, have any form of workplace retirement benefit. Meanwhile, upwards of 30 states are considering a state-sponsored retirement savings plan for small business employees, and six are already implementing such a plan. Congress has been taking notice as well. Some policymakers are reluctant to expose individuals to market risk and want to provide guarantees that would protect their retirement savings in the event of a market crash.
On September 23, the Retirement Security Project hosted an event to discuss these and related policy issues and released two new papers on the topic. The first paper proposes a number of ways to improve retirement saving options for contingent workers, such as exploiting innovations in technology and developing retirement accounts that follow the worker from job to job. The second paper explores differing types of rate-of-return guarantees, and who bears the costs of financing those assurances. After each paper presentation, discussants commented, and all panelists took questions from the audience.