A FEW MONTHS AGO, the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA) at the New School for Social Research prepared a report on behalf of the City Council of Philadelphia entitled "Are Philadelphians Ready for Retirement?" Unfortunately, our data revealed that Philadelphia retirees and workers are in even worse shape than workers and retirees nationwide.
In Philadelphia, 20 percent of retirees are poor, compared with 9 percent nationwide, and 30 percent have incomes between 100 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level, compared with 23 percent nationwide.
Additionally, in Philadelphia, only 48 percent of workers ages 25-64 work for an employer that sponsors a plan, compared with 53 percent nationwide, and 37 percent of workers actually participate in a plan, compared with 45 percent nationwide.
In response to these findings, Councilwoman Parker introduced a resolution, and City Council unanimously approved the creation a 16-person Task Force on Retirement Security for Private Sector Employees in Philadelphia, which will be responsible for drafting and issuing a report to Council recommending potential policy and legislative solutions.
The Task Force includes membership from the business community, academia, nonprofits and unions. We decided to go the Task Force route in order to ensure that different voices were heard and the recommendations to Council truly came from the community, and from the ground up.
Why is government looking into this issue, you might ask? Because when our seniors are able to comfortably retire, they are much less likely to rely on government for social services in retirement.
Essentially, if we don't begin to address this issue now and help more people so they can comfortably retire, we'll pay for it later.
The Task Force met for the first time on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and while we don't yet know what our final recommendations will be, we plan to deliver them by the end of 2017.
Our work is not being done in a vacuum, and it will be influenced by actions happening at the state and federal level. We are currently awaiting a final ruling from the Department of Labor as to what cities can and cannot do, which is expected in December. And while January will bring a new presidential administration, the change in leadership doesn't change the fact that we must continue to work to address this issue.
We look forward to keeping you in the loop as the work of our Task Force progresses.