The U.S. Department of Labor is taking steps to help workers save for retirement.
Job-based 401(k) plans are one of the best ways for employees to build their retirement nest egg by putting aside pre-tax funds, especially if those funds are matched by their employers. However, about one-third of American workers do not have access to a job-based 401(k). While IRAs are available to workers on their own, only a small fraction of people take advantage of them. The Obama administration has proposed legislation that would make enrollment in an IRA automatic for workers who do not have access to a 401(k) plan at work, but that legislation stalled in Congress.
Now, the administration has directed the Labor Department to issue a rule supporting state-based plans that encourage retirement savings. This includes laws in some states that require employers to automatically enroll new employees into IRAs if a 401(k) is not offered, and other state laws that encourage employers to provide 401(k)s.
Until now, state initiatives have been hindered by a concern that their efforts may be preempted or nullified by federal law. According to the Labor Department, the new law will safeguard retirement savings for workers and help states adopt laws on retirement savings that are consistent with federal law.
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