A recent report published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes that retirement security for Americans is on shaky ground and recommends Congress do something about it.
Above: 2016 annual benefits paid to LAGERS' benefit recipients in Missouri.
Employee benefits are often thought to be for the betterment of one and only one group - the employees. Rather than simply providing a salary, employers use benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid vacation to build morale, keep good workers, and to attract new workers. For these reasons, it makes sense to think that compensation other than salary are good for the employees and only the employees. But there is more to it than that.
A publicly-held company must make decisions that will positively affect the bottom line so the shareholders may profit. Likewise, government leaders serve the taxpayers and make decisions to enhance the prosperity of their communities. Decisions about employee benefits, therefore, cannot only be valuable to the employee, but also must make sense for the shareholder or taxpayer. In other words, all stakeholders must get some return on the investment for employee benefits.
The September 30th Washington Post article, The New Reality of Old Age in America, by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan is an eye-opening look at the state of senior citizens in the United States. The main takeaway from this piece: the days of retiring after a career of work with a gold watch and secure lifetime income are over for many Americans. The new reality is one where Social Security is the primary source of income with a full or part-time job as a supplement, forcing individuals to live out their remaining days near the poverty line.
I rarely take vacations and when I do, I like to completely unplug, escape and get back to the quiet of the country. With my regular work being about retirement issues, employer contribution rates or budgets seemingly all day long, when I get away I want to just enjoy the quiet calm of ‘non-work’.