Salem, OR—The Oregon Retirement Savings Board and State Treasurer Tobias Read today announced that OregonSaves, the state’s auto-enrollment retirement savings program, has reached a significant milestone—$200 million saved for retirement by Oregonians. The occasion coincides with the rollout of the program to Oregon’s smallest businesses.
Launched with a pilot phase in July 2017, OregonSaves became the nation’s first state-based effort to address the retirement savings crisis by ensuring all private sector workers have the opportunity to save. Over time, the program expanded statewide in waves, starting with the largest employers, and now culminating in this sixth (and final) group of employers; those with four or fewer employees. Oregon is the first state program to roll out to businesses of this size.
“Six years ago, Oregon made history,” said State Treasurer Tobias Read, who serves as chair of the Oregon Retirement Savings Board. “We started with the belief that everyone should have an easy way to save for their retirement at work. Every Oregonian now has that opportunity. OregonSaves is delivering, and it’s more than a visionary Oregon idea – it has served as inspiration for other states—with more than $800M saved nationally for a more secure future.”
The program, championed by Treasurer Read during his service in the Oregon Legislature, gives working Oregonians the option to save their own money for retirement via payroll deductions, without requiring employers to create plans or pay any fees. The program was designed for workers who do not have access to a retirement plan like a 401(k) through their employer and those who may not have experience saving.
Early market research found that as many as one million Oregonians—representing about half of the workforce—lacked access to a workplace-based retirement savings plan and would be eligible to participate in OregonSaves. At the same time, surveys by the AARP found that workers are 15 times more likely to save if they can do so via payroll deductions.
Six years later, nearly 118,000 workers from more than 21,000 businesses statewide are saving with every paycheck in their own Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)—a combined $200 million and growing.
OregonSaves was the first program of its kind in the U.S. and continues to lead a national movement. Now 13 states have followed Oregon with similar programs, and during the 2023 state legislative sessions alone, at least 22 states proposed legislation to establish new state retirement programs, amend existing programs, or form study groups to explore their options for helping uncovered workers.
Even in these early years, OregonSaves has demonstrated success by a number of measures, with approximately 75% of employees electing to stay in the program; workers saving at a higher percentage of pay than anticipated (an average of $171 per month); and millions of dollars saved by workers new to retirement savings.
Oregon continues to blaze a trail, including being the first state to welcome cannabis businesses and their employees into the program. In 2018, OregonSaves opened its doors to the self-employed and gig economy workers, allowing them to join the nearly 118,000 employees already taking part through a facilitating employer. More than 2,100 workers have elected to independently take part and save in the past five years.
Continuing its efforts toward inclusivity for industries typically excluded from other programs and benefits, the past few years have seen OregonSaves welcome SEIU represented Personal Support Workers, as well as Homecare Workers and Personal Care Attendants to the program. These steps demonstrate the program’s continued commitment to retirement savings accessibility for every worker in Oregon.
OregonSaves is a simple way for Oregonians to save for retirement at work. Employees contribute part of their paycheck into their own personal IRAs that stay with them throughout their careers. The program also benefits employers who don't offer a qualified retirement plan by helping them compete with businesses that do. Brought to you by Oregon State Treasury, the program is overseen by the Oregon Retirement Savings Board and administered by a program service provider. To learn more about OregonSaves or to open an account, please visit www.oregonsaves.com
or call 844-661-6777.
The Oregon Treasury Savings Network, part of the Oregon State Treasury, was launched in January 2001 to administer the Oregon College Savings Plan. It has since expanded to administer the Oregon ABLE Savings Plan and national ABLE for ALL Savings Plan, and the first state-run retirement program, OregonSaves.