These 2 US regions are least prepared for retirement

Americans Saving More But Still Not Meeting Retirement Goals

Some states and regions are better off than others when it comes to access to — and participation in — employer-based retirement plans such as a 401(k) or traditional pension, a new report from the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts shows.

John Scott, director of Pew's retirement savings project, explains in a news release:

"Workplace retirement savings plans can be a critical piece of the retirement security puzzle. But for millions of Americans, this piece is missing."

For example, Pew found differences of more than 20 percent in rates of both access to and participation in employer-based retirement plans when comparing the state that is in first place — Wisconsin — with the state that finishes last, Florida.

Access rates for full-time, full-year, private sector wage and salary workers ages 18 to 64 in the two states are:

  • Wisconsin: 70 percent
  • 50-state average: 58 percent
  • Florida: 46 percent

Participation rates for full-time, full-year, private sector wage and salary workers ages 18 to 64:

  • Wisconsin: 61 percent
  • 50-state average: 49 percent
  • Florida: 38 percent

The South and West have the lowest access and participation rates. The Midwest, New England and parts of the Pacific Northwest have the highest rates.

The study found that state and regional differences are partly due to certain industries being concentrated in specific areas.

Among the industries that Pew analyzed independently, the leisure and hospitality industry was least likely to provide retirement benefits, with 34 percent of workers offered a plan. It also had one of the lowest industry participation rates, with 23 percent of workers participating in a plan.

Leisure and hospitality jobs are most concentrated in Nevada, Hawaii and Florida.

Related: Best places to retire overseas.

10 affordable places to retire overseas (US News)
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These 2 US regions are least prepared for retirement

Abruzzo, Italy

Abruzzo it known for its golden beaches and panoramic views of the sea. The nearby mountains offer scenic beauty as well as skiing in the winter. The castles, vineyards and villages made of stone allow you to imagine you are transported to another era. The delightful recreation options and beautiful scenery are available at bargain prices.

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Alvarve, Portugal

The cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest in Western Europe. Algarve has affordable real estate, reliably sunny weather and some of Europe's best-kept sandy beaches. A move here will be made easier by the established expat community, low-cost retiree residency program and significant English-speaking population.

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Cayo, Belize

Belize is a sunny country that's easily accessible from the U.S. and the folks all speak English. However, this is a small country where the infrastructure is developing. The cost of living is affordable if you buy locally, but you may need to pay inflated prices to purchase the same goods you enjoyed at home.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand's scenic beauty ranges from beaches to lush mountains and jungles. The laid-back culture and modern infrastructure have attracted tens of thousands of foreigners to the country. Chiang Mai couples a low cost of living with great weather. The high-quality health care and abundance of Western amenities are also big pluses for foreign retirees.

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City Beaches, Panama

Panama's most convenient and comfortable stretch of Pacific coastline is known as its "City Beaches" area, thanks to the proximity to Panama City. The most developed community is Coronado, about two hours from Panama City. This fast-growing coastal region offers a high-quality beach lifestyle with all the amenities and services you could want. The country uses the U.S. dollar for its currency, so there’s no currency exchange risk to worry about.

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George Town, Malaysia 

Historic George Town began as a British colonial outpost and maintains its colonial flavor. The low cost of living is a big part of George Town's appeal. Public transportation is modern and efficient, health care is first-rate and the tap water is safe to drink. You can also escape the city at nearby beaches and mountain retreats.

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Granada, Nicaragua

Granada is among the most carefully restored and preserved colonial cities in the Americas. This city of 120,000 has a sizable expat community and attracts many international travelers with its upscale hotels, fine restaurants and well-kept buildings. There’s a great variety of classic and charming Spanish-colonial homes with high ceilings, painted tiles and private courtyards that you can own for as little as $40,000.

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Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic 

The Dominican Republic is among the most affordable spots in the Caribbean. It's a place where you could retire near the beach even if your retirement nest egg is nothing more than a monthly Social Security check. Las Terrenas is a vibrant international community with residents from all over the globe and a well-established community for expats.

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Pau, France

Retirees who dream of Paris but can't afford it should consider Pau. The Basque people have their own language, music and cuisine, and all the houses are painted white with accents of Basque red. The geography of the area ranges from rolling hills to towering mountains, and the shallow water of the bay gives rise to a spectacular surf.

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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 

Mexico is home to the biggest established population of American expats in the world, making it a great choice if you seek adventure with the comforts of home. Mexico is no longer cheap, but it does provide a luxurious coastal lifestyle to retirees on a budget in Puerto Vallarta, including amenities like golf courses, marinas, restaurants and shopping. This is a lifestyle that is comparable to what you could enjoy in Southern California, if you could afford to live there.

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Employer and worker characteristics also play a role, with Pew finding wide variations based on:

  • Employer industry
  • Worker income
  • Worker age
  • Worker education
  • Worker race and ethnicity

If you're coming up short in terms of retirement savings, be sure to visit the Money Talks News Solutions Center. There, you can find help with everything from budgeting to savings accounts to brokerages.

What's your take on the Pew study's findings about employer-sponsored retirement plans? Sound off in our Forums. It's the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

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