How States Are Planning to Fix the Country’s Retirement Crisis

By Yuqi Wang, Economic Policy Analyst, NCLR

Photo: www.aag.com, http://ow.ly/IYcvj

A secure retirement is a right of all workers, yet 45 percent of working-age households in the U.S. do not have either an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). For Latinos, the data paints a starker picture: 60 percent of Latino workers do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, which is among the most effective ways for people to save for retirement.

Having states provide auto-enroll IRAs to private sector workers who don’t have access to such benefits through their workplaces and who tend to be lower-income is one effective solution. State-based retirement plans benefit employees of small businesses where 50 percent of employers don’t offer retirement plans. It also allows employers to provide IRAs to employees without requiring the employer to sponsor or contribute to the IRAs. Workers who participate are automatically opted in to a retirement savings account that takes out a predetermined amount from monthly paychecks and saves it in the IRA. Workers also have the option to opt-out at any time. Several states already passed legislation enacting these plans (e.g. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, and Oregon), with 27 more states considering this or other program variants.

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February Yields Strong Growth for Latino Workers

Photo: One Day Closer

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that employers added 235,000 jobs in February, a hefty gain that far exceeded economists’ prediction of 190,000 jobs. Additionally, the national unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 4.7 percent. The U.S. Federal Reserve says that he low rate, which has stayed under 5 percent since April 2016 indicates our economy is at or near full employment.

The Latino unemployment rate dropped by almost half a percentage point to 5.6 percent last month. An increase in construction appears to have spurred Latino employment. The industry added 58,000 jobs with the most growth in specialty trade contractors and heavy and civil engineering construction. While Latinos comprise nearly 1/3 of construction jobs, they are more likely to be in lower-wage labor positions.

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House Votes to Strip Retirement Savings from Millions of Americans

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Hardworking Latinos took another hit from the Republican-led Congress this week when the House of Representatives voted to overturn Department of Labor regulations that support state efforts to provide retirement programs to private sector workers.

“We are disappointed that members of Congress have voted against the financial security of millions of Americans. In California alone, the Secure Choice program that was voted into law last year with bipartisan support would help connect 7.5 million workers—half of whom are Latino—to a retirement savings account,” said Eric Rodriguez, NCLR’s Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation.

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D.C. Circuit Court Decision Is a Victory for Consumers

By Renato Rocha, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to rehear a case, PHH Corp. vs. CFPB, that would have seriously weakened the efficacy of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Last October, a three-judge panel attempted to make it easier to remove the director of the consumer agency, allowing the president to fire the director at will. The full federal appeals court decided that it will revisit the issue at a hearing in May, effectively scrapping this earlier decision, and allowing the CFPB’s structure to continue as Congress intended.

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Three Key Findings on Hispanics with Debt in Collection: Results from CFPB’s Recent Survey

By Renato Rocha, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Photo: Pictures of Money

Debt collection in the Latino community is a critical consumer protection issue for one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing communities.

Latino families need access to affordable credit but have been historically excluded or discriminated from accessing safe financial products. The FDIC’s 2015 Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked households indicated that a result of this persistent economic injustice is that Latinos and other consumers who have been outside the financial mainstream are vulnerable to financial shocks, such as health-related expenses or job loss. Having been sidelined from affordable products, Latinos have little choice but to turn to more expensive credit to pay for their expenses. For example, 39 percent of Hispanic households used an alternative financial product (such as a payday loan) in 2015, compared to just 17 percent of White households.

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