Participation and Pre-Retirement Withdrawals in Oregon’s Auto-IRA

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About half of private sector workers in the U.S. do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan at their current job. To fill the gap, a number of state governments around the country have recently launched initiatives to enroll their uncovered workers in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). This paper reports on the experience of Oregon, which was the first state to launch an auto-IRA program (OregonSaves). Because the program only began in July of 2017 and is in its infancy, analysts are still debating basic statistics about its operation, such as the participation and opt-out rates. To advance the conversation, this study uses administrative data from OregonSaves to develop a conceptual framework for measuring participation that reconciles the results from prior analyses. It then shifts the focus to leakages, tracking a cohort of employees, who had funded accounts in September 2018, over a 12-month period.