An AARP New York/Siena College Poll found that roughly a...

An AARP New York/Siena College Poll found that roughly a quarter of boomers and Gen Xers expect to rely on Social Security to fund most of their retirement expenses. Credit: iStockphoto by Getty Images

More than one in five Long Islanders ages 36 to 70 are not covered by a pension and have no retirement savings account in the workplace, according to a survey released yesterday.

Twenty-two percent of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and 23 percent of Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) said in the AARP New York/Siena College Poll they do not have a defined-benefit pension, a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement program.

The responses include workers without access to such plans, as well as those who chose not to participate.

Among employees with access to 401(k) or similar plans, six in 10 boomers and seven in 10 Gen Xers are participating, the poll found. Half of boomers and four in 10 Gen Xers are covered by traditional pensions that provide a guaranteed monthly income upon retirement.

Poll surveyed 608 on LI

AARP New York paid the Siena College Research Institute to survey 608 Long Islanders between July 25 and Sept. 8 via telephone. The poll has a margin of error of between plus or minus 6.8 percentage points for baby boomers, and 7.5 percentage points for Gen Xers.

“A large number of New Yorkers — 3.5 million who work in private industry — don’t have access to a retirement plan in the workplace,” Beth Finkel, state director of AARP New York, said Monday. The advocacy group has 2.6 million members statewide, including 500,000 in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

“This is a problem because we know that people are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if it automatically comes out of your paycheck” and goes into a savings plan offered by the employer, she said.

Many workers locally and across the state are employed by small businesses that say they cannot afford to offer retirement benefits, Finkel said.

She urged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature to adopt a “state-facilitated retirement savings program” where the state assumes the cost of setting up the plan. Employers would not be required to match worker’s contributions.

Similar plans already exist in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. Finkel sits on a 10-member commission appointed by Cuomo to study retirement security.

Pervasive lack of planning

The AARP/Siena poll found that local boomers and Gen Xers have done little to plan for their golden years.

Only about one in five boomers and Gen Xers have done the most basic task: writing a budget to determine what they will need to live on in retirement.

Siena pollster Donald P. Levy said, “It really is an example of sticking your head right in the sand.”

Levy said many Long Islanders haven’t done their homework because they are burdened with trying to pay bills for property taxes, utilities and health care.

The poll found roughly a quarter of boomers and Gen Xers expect to rely on Social Security to fund a majority of their retirement expenses.

The politics of solvency

When asked which of the major-party presidential candidates would do the most to protect the long-term solvency of Social Security, boomers and Gen Xers together were equally divided between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, 44 percent to 43 percent.

The same held true for boomers as a group, though Clinton was slightly ahead of Trump, but within the poll’s margin of error. Among Gen Xers, Trump held a 10-point lead over Clinton — 48 percent to 38 percent.

Both candidates have promised not to reduce Social Security benefits.

Clinton wants to increase them for widows and workers who take time off to care for a child or ill family member. She also would require the wealthy to pay more taxes on more of their income.

Trump has said his economic growth plan, which includes tax cuts, would boost jobs and increase paychecks, which in turn would mean more payroll taxes coming into Social Security.

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