About 10,000 people have opened myRAs – pronounced “my-R-A” – since they became available late last year, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in an afternoon briefing at the U.S. Treasury Department on Friday.
But that’s a small number compared with the 30 million-plus full-time American workers – 2 million of them in Florida – whose jobs don’t offer retirement plans such as a 401(k).
In Florida, only 46 percent of full-time year-round workers have access to employer-based plans and only 38 percent of these workers participate, according to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Both rates are the lowest in the nation.
In Florida and elsewhere, many don’t earn enough to put savings aside for retirement. Others work for small employers who can’t afford to fund retirement plans, or in industries such as hospitality, agriculture and construction that don’t typically offer them.
So as Americans get their annual income tax refunds this season, Lew said, workers would be wise to begin saving with myRAs.
“We would hope that people would see this as an opportunity at a time when they have a little bit of liquidity in their family budgets,” he said.
The earlier they start saving, the more likely they are to continue.
“And if you start small, you usually grow,” Lew said. “And if you do it for 40 years instead of the last five or 10 years, you have a runway that’s long enough to build a nest egg.”
MyRA is basically a Roth IRA that has no fees, no start-up costs and no minimum contribution requirement. The government says depositors cannot lose their money, which is invested in a new U.S. Treasury security that earns the same variable rate as investments by federal employees in the government securities fund – currently about a 1.75 percent annual rate.
More about the savings plan
- Depositors can contribute up to $5,500 per year, or $6,500 for those 50 and older.
- The accounts can reach a maximum of $15,000 for up to 30 years, after which the savings will be transferred into private Roth IRAs.
- Depositors can withdraw contributions without penalty.
- Contributions can be direct-deposited, deducted from payroll or taken from a tax refund.
- For more information, go to www.myRA.gov.