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Los Angeles has one of the lowest rates of access to retirement plans

Storefronts in downtown Los Angeles. A new study suggests Angelenos have less access to retirement plans because many workers are employed by small businesses.
Storefronts in downtown Los Angeles. A new study suggests Angelenos have less access to retirement plans because many workers are employed by small businesses.
(Los Angeles Times)

Retiring in California is expensive enough -- but even more so if you work here. Many of the U.S. cities where workers are least likely to have access to retirement plans are in California, new research shows.

Three in four workers in Los Angeles do not have jobs that offer a retirement plan, either one with traditional, defined benefits or a 401(k)-like plan with defined contributions, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent research group. That puts L.A. among the worst U.S. cities for access to retirement.

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More than 60% of workers in San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego don’t have access to such plans. In 90% of major metropolitan areas, at least half of workers had the option of an employer-based retirement program.

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Pew analyzed a sample of census data that covered private-sector workers, including 12,505 of Los Angeles’ 4.8 million full- and part-time employees.

Part of the reason retirement plans are so scarce in California may be that the state is home to regions where a large chunk of employment is in agriculture, an industry in which employers don’t tend to set up 401(k) plans for their workers.

In Riverside and Bakersfield, two cities where farms are a big part of the labor market, more than 50% of full-time workers don’t have access to an employer-based retirement plan.

But remarkably few Angelenos have access to the benefit, which may be because the city is home to a lot of small businesses. Twenty percent of workers in Los Angeles have gigs at companies with fewer than 10 employees, compared with 15% for all Americans. Just 12% of people in Los Angeles working for a small company had the option of a retirement plan.

Los Angeles also has a large share of Hispanic workers, who are less likely than all other ethnic groups in the city to have a 401(k). Nearly half of all workers in L.A. that Pew studied — 47% -- were Hispanic, compared with 17% in the U.S. overall.

Twenty-nine percent of Hispanic Angelenos were at jobs that provided retirement plans, compared with more than 40% of white, black and Asian workers.

natalie.kitroeff@latimes.com

Twitter: @Nataliekitro

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