Insights Blog

Congress’ JEC Highlights SCEPA Research on Retirement Crisis

August 17, 2020

On August 14th, the anniversary of the Social Security Act of 1935, the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of U.S. Congress released two reports on the weakening of the American retirement system featuring research from SCEPA.

The first report, “Retirement Insecurity,” outlines the retirement crisis in our country, and highlights SCEPA’s research on inadequate retirement plan coverage, the large percentage of older workers at risk of living in poverty in retirement, and race disparities in retirement savings. The second report, “The Impact of the Coronavirus Recession on Older Workers,” explores the additional threat to retirement security posed by the COVID-19 recession. As our research has shown, older workers, and especially Black and women older workers, have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus as they are overrepresented in at-risk occupations and occupations at risk for layoffs. The report details all the challenges older workers face, such as higher unemployment rates, insufficient savings, age discrimination, higher health care costs, and greater risk of dying or suffering severe health problems from COVID-19. 

“The pandemic has exaggerated the failure of our retirement system, leaving older workers to face the risk of contracting the virus at work or retiring early with inadequate savings.” explained SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci in a recent JEC press release. “This is not what aging with dignity looks like. Hard-working Americans deserve a secure retirement. On the 85th Anniversary of Social Security, it is time we commit to upholding the program's intended aim—to ensure a dignified retirement to workers of all races, genders, and income levels. To do this, we must expand Social Security and provide all workers with a universal, non-predatory, guaranteed savings account.”

Kyle Moore, a senior policy analyst with JEC who previously served as a SCEPA fellow at our Retirement Equity Lab (ReLab), is the lead author of both JEC reports.