Small Business Owner Participation in Retirement Plans Remains Low -- And Unaffected in Recessions

Dec 05, 2012, 11:25 ET from The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two new studies comparing the retirement holdings of small business owners with those of wage and salary workers show stability in the individual account retirement assets of the small business owners, despite the effects of recessions. While the studies rely on different databases and focus on different subgroups, both reports find that small business owners continue to be significantly less likely to have retirement plans than workers overall.  

"These studies give us new information about the ongoing challenge of retirement plan coverage for small business owners," said Chief Counsel for Advocacy Winslow Sargeant. "The fact that business cycle effects appear to be minimal suggests that closing the retirement plan gaps will require longer term strategies by policy makers, plan administrators, and owners."

A new study by Advocacy Economist Jules Lichtenstein finds that having an underwater mortgage did not have a significant effect on the likelihood that a small business owner invested in retirement assets or on the amount accumulated. Financial Viability and Retirement Assets: A Look at Small Business Owners and Private Sector Workers uses 2009 data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to look at a broad spectrum of individual account retirement assets held by the self-employed and by private sector wage and salary workers age 15 and older. It finds that smaller and more financially vulnerable business owners have less invested in retirement assets than their larger or financially stronger counterparts.     

A second study finds both the probability of having a retirement plan and the value of IRA/Keogh accounts to be largely stable through recessions. Retirement, Recessions, and Older Small Business Owners by Tami Gurley-Calvez, Kandice Kapinos, and Donald Bruce, uses the 1992-2010 Health and Retirement Study to focus on individuals nearing retirement. The study finds that older small business owners with IRAs and Keogh accounts are likely to have larger amounts of such assets than comparable private and public sector workers over age 50.

The two studies can be found on the Advocacy website:

The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government.  The presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed Chief Counsel for Advocacy advances the views, concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policymakers. Regional advocates and an office in Washington, D.C., support the Chief Counsel's efforts. For more information, visit, or call (202) 205-6533. 

Contact: Kathryn Tobias (202) 205-6938

SOURCE The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)