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California workers are less likely than most Americans to have employer-sponsored retirement plans, according to a new academic report, and nearly half of them will retire in or near poverty status.

The report was issued Monday by the Center for Labor Research at the University of California, Berkeley. Among other thing, the researchers, Sylvia Allegretto and Nari Rhee, found that California's retirees are overwhelmingly dependent on Social Security for retirement income because of the relative lack of supplemental retirement benefits.

Social Security, they said, provides 79.1 percent of retirement income for those in the bottom quartile of retirees by income, and 70.3 percent for the middle 50 percent.

Employer-sponsored pension systems account for just 15.5 percent of income for the middle 50 percent, but only 52 percent of California employers offer pension plans, markedly lower than the 58 percent nationwide. And of those California plans, 61 percent are defined-contribution systems such as a 401k, rather than traditional defined-benefit plans.

The researchers project that 46.7 percent of California's workers aged 25-64 will have retirement incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold.

"Our research shows how important Social Security is to the middle class," Rhee said in a statement that accompanied release of the study, "and in order for today's workers to retire in dignity, they also need access to a supplemental plan that can provide secure income in retirement."


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