Stock photo: Man holding card with "IRA" on it. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Imagine that your employee benefits package does not include a savings plan for plan members. They want one, and you want them to have one too, since that’s how most U.S. workers put aside money for retirement. You happen to be in a state—say, California, Oregon, or Indiana—where the government has created a free employee retirement plan: a state-facilitated individual retirement account (IRA) with automatic enrollment, known as an “auto-IRA.” Would you offer the state plan to your members? Or would you be more likely to offer them a new private-market fund?

The Pew Charitable Trusts has been following the auto-IRA trend since the aforementioned states jumped into the business. Pew’s interest was piqued because some retirement experts wondered whether state programs “might ‘crowd out’ the private market for plans. Would businesses not adopt their own 401(k)s, or would some employers terminate existing plans? Alternatively, could these programs encourage employers to adopt new plans?”

The results from a larger study last year, and a recent update, suggest that auto-IRAs have yet to catch on. But their mere existence may be encouraging plan sponsors to add a retirement vehicle to their benefits packages.

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