A new report took a look recently at retirement plans and participation in New Jersey and some of the results were pretty surprising.

(Creatas, ThinkStock)

A shocking number of New Jersey workers have no access to retirement plan. A staggering amount of Garden State employees have no access to a retirement savings plan or a pension through their company. A huge majority of residents are not satisfied with their current financial lot in life and a high percentage isn't sure if they could come up with extra cash quickly if an unexpected need arose. Those are just some findings in a new Pew Charitable Trusts report titled: "Who's in, Who's Out: A look at Access to Employer-Based Retirement Plans and Participation in the States."

Only 53 percent of New Jersey workers have access to a retirement savings plan which ranked 42 out of the 50 states and just 47 percent of all workers are participating in a retirement savings plan which ranked 40th.

"In New Jersey, one million full-time, full-year, private sector workers lack access to a retirement savings plan and the key point here is that these are full-time, full-year workers so if you wanted to add in part-timers, seasonal workers (and) independent contractors, that number's going to get much bigger," said John Scott, director of the retirement savings project at Pew.

Workplace retirement savings plans can be a critical piece of the retirement security puzzle, but for millions of Americans, this piece is missing, Scott explained. He said there were immediate concerns for New Jersey residents as well.

"Thirty-nine percent of New Jersey workers are sure they could come up with $2,000 if there was an unexpected need in the next month so, really what we're saying is more than half of the working population in New Jersey is not confident at all that if a financial shock occurred that they'd be able to cover it if it was $2,000 or more," he said.

Only a little over a third (36 percent) said they had ever tried to figure out how much money they'd need to save for retirement. In addition, many New Jerseyans aren't thrilled with their current cash situation.

"Three-quarters (76 percent) are not satisfied with their current financial situation when they think very broadly about what they've accumulated both in terms of savings and assets," Scott noted.

Garden State lawmakers approved a bill (A-4725) that would help more workers in the state sock away some money for retirement.

On Jan. 11, Gov. Chris Christie signed it into law the "NJ Secure Choice Savings Program Act" which will create individual retirement accounts for employees of firms with at least 25 workers who do not presently have access to an employer-provided retirement plan.

The top Democrat in the NJ Assembly was a prime sponsor of the measure.

"Retirement savings are a mounting anxiety for more and more workers," said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus) in an emailed statement. "Under this program, employees who would otherwise have no private retirement plan will now have access to one and smaller companies will now have a great incentive tool to help recruit and retain employees without any financial burden."

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