OLYMPIA –State Democratic legislators held a work session today to cast a light onto a considerable and growing problem — retirement insecurity, or the degree to which Washingtonians are unprepared for retirement.

One in four Washington residents between the ages of 45-64 years old has $25,000 or less in savings for retirement. In addition, 77 percent of employees who work for small businesses lack the option to save through a workplace retirement plan. Nationwide, the majority of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings and a third of working people say they have even less than that saved for retirement.

“We have a retirement income crisis that threatens Washingtonians and Americans, we are less prepared to retire than in past decades.” said Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma, one of the participants in the work session.

Nine participants from business, labor, finance and research sectors presented information on a wide variety of issues ranging from defined benefit pension plans, to small business options, to worker retirement readiness.

“Retirement insecurity is an extremely complex issue. Having a panel of presenters who are so immersed in this topic was truly special; their knowledge and information was invaluable,” said Conway.

Even though the economy is recovering, Americans remain concerned and anxious about retirement, and they want help. In fact, 89 percent of Americans have indicated that they are seeking some form of retirement assistance or guidance. More and more employers are offering 401k plans instead of traditional defined benefit plans, making retirement even more difficult to navigate.

 “Retirement shouldn’t be a gamble,” said Conway, “Employees need to be able to count on a steady and stable retirement income. That’s why we held this work session, to understand these problems and seek innovative ideas. We need to be prepared because the boomers are starting to retire.”

Other participants included: Sen. Maralyn Chase, D- Seattle; Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D- Seattle; Sen. Karen Keiser, D- Kent; Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D- Seattle; and Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater.

The entire work session was aired live on TVW and will be available for webcast on its site: www.tvw.org.

“This is just the beginning,” said Conway. “We are starting a dialogue here that several other states have just begun; we must continue this exploration and find a way for Washington state to assist its citizens in achieving retirement security.”