Retirement Security for Women
America’s women are paid just 77 cents for every dollar men earn. For women of color, the gap is even worse. African American women are paid 62 cents and Latinas are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white men.1 This wage gap affects retirement security — as women who earn less are unable to save for retirement at the same rate as men.
Women and the Wage Gap
The average female worker loses approximately $434,000 in wages over a 40-year period as a direct result of pay inequities.2 Among the population age 65 and over who continue to work, women earn just over half of what men earn.3
Women, Work & Retirement
Approximately 70% of women not yet retired expect that they will work for pay during retirement, with 41% of women reporting that they believe working during retirement will be financially necessary. Women are also more likely to work in part-time jobs that don’t qualify for a retirement plan.4
Women and Aging
On average, women earn over half a million dollars less than men in their lifetimes, and — due to longer life expectancies — that amount gets stretched over an extra 5–10 years. Over half of women age 75 or older live alone and almost half of those are living at or near the federal poverty line.
Women Need Social Security
Women are more reliant on Social Security benefits to keep them out of poverty because they live longer, earn less and are less likely to have a pension and other supplemental retirement income.
Women comprise 52% of Social Security beneficiaries, and they rely on it for a greater percentage of their retirement income than do men.5 This is on top of the fact that a woman’s total retirement assets, both in and out of the workplace, average less than 70% of a man’s comparable savings.6
Social Security is especially important for women of color: 59% of African American women and 58% of Latina women (age 65 and older) receive more than half their income from Social Security.7
Women Retire Less Secure
|Oregon Retirees by Gender (2001-2010)||All Oregon Retirees||Bottom 25%||Middle 50%||Top 25%|
Women receive lower benefits than men. The average annual income from Social Security for all women age 65 and older is about $9,800, compared with about $12,700 for men in the same age group.8 This is a serious problem in Oregon, with over 40% of retired women living at below 200% of the poverty level. Women who retire into poverty are less likely to be able to afford basic healthcare, staples like food and heating, and are more likely to suffer serious health issues as a result.
Why We Support HB 3436
House Bill 3436 is an important step toward developing a solution that provides a secure retirement for all working Oregonians, especially women. The bill creates the Oregon Retirement Savings Board with representation from employers, the public, the financial services industry, and the State Treasurer. The board is charged with studying retirement savings options in 2013 and 2014 and with developing a responsible, sustainable plan to put before the 2015 Legislature. HB 3436 requires that any plan developed by the board is: portable, accessible to all Oregon workers, and does not incur any liability to the state.
When people can’t afford to retire or they retire in poverty, we all pay the price — through our families, our communities and the state. We must find solutions that serve Oregonians and protect state resources.
- On average, women earn over half a million dollars less than men in their lifetimes, and — due to longer life expectancies — that amount gets stretched over an extra 5–10 years in retirement. A loss of earnings on par with men and a longer life expectancy mean too many women retire into poverty.
- In Oregon, over 40% of retired women are living at below 200% of the poverty level.
- Women’s total retirement assets, both in and out of the workplace, average less than 70% of a man’s comparable savings.
- 59% of African American women and 58% of Latina women (age 65 and older) receive more than half their income from Social Security.
- 57% of all retired people are women.
SNAPSHOT: One Oregon Mom
“I am a full-time, stay-at-home mom. Like many parents, saving for the future is a high priority for me. The risk I took leaving the workforce, in addition to my lowered earning potential over my lifetime, is that I am no longer contributing to a retirement account that will help keep me financially stable later in life.
I frequently worry about the impact this break from paid work will have on my family’s long-term savings. The break I have taken from my career has ultimately been for the sake of my children. It is also for the sake of my children that I want to have a solid plan for retirement, so they are not burdened with providing for me later in life.”
1 U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement: Table PINC-05: Work Experience in 2010 — People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Money Earnings in 2010, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex.
2 Center for American Progress Action Fund Report, Lifetime Losses: The Career Wage Gap. 2008
3 GAO Report: Women Face Challenges in Ensuring Financial Security in Retirement, October 2007.
4 United States Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/publications/women.html)
5 U.S. Social Security Administration. (2008, December). Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin 2009. (Table 5.A6 — Number and average monthly benefit, by age, sex, type of benefit, and race, p. 5.27). Retrieved 24 May 2011, from http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2009/supplement09.pdf
6 ING Retirement Research Institute “What About Women (and Retirement). Accessed July 2012: http://ing.us/sites/ing.us.rri/files/what_about_women_white_paper.pdf.
7 U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy. (2008). Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2008. (Table 9.B4. Percentage distribution of persons in beneficiary families, by race, Hispanic origin, and sex, 2008). Retrieved 24 May 2011, from http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/income_pop55/2008/sect09.html#table9.b4
8 Hayes, J., Hartmann, H., & Lee, S. (2010, March). Social Security: Vital to Retirement Security for 35 Million Women and Men. Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Retrieved 30 June 2011, from http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/social-security-vital-to- retirement-security-for-35-million-women-and-men