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Delaware EARNS sees first employer participants

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Small businesses have tapped into the state-established retirement savings program, DE EARNS. | PHOTO COURTESY OF UNSPLASH

DOVER — Employees in several private-sector businesses will now have a brighter future ahead of them thanks to the new Delaware EARNS retirement savings program.

House Bill 205 required Delaware employers with five or more employees, regardless of full-time or part-time status, to provide a retirement plan option whether private or through the state-led Delaware EARNS effort.

Eleven employers decided to join the program early, helping to ensure its functionality ahead of its July 1 launch later this year. The program is offered at no-cost to the employers with no plan-sponsor liability.

The first employers to work with Delaware EARNS, include Down Syndrome Association of Delaware, Great New Beginnings, Junebug’s Little Rubies, Just In Time Learning Academy, LaVante’ N. Dorsey & Associates, Leading Youth Through Empowerment (LYTE), Limestone Therapeutic Massage Associates, My Sister’s Fault, Mike & Mel’s Family Restaurant, Pathways to Success and Sweet Lucy’s Ice Cream & Treats.

“The start of the employer pilot is a true milestone,” Davis said in a prepared statement. “It’s thrilling to see a goal we have been working toward for years become a reality. We have nearly 150,000 private-sector workers in our state with no access to retirement savings through their employers. We now have a real opportunity to change that with the EARNS program.” 

The Delaware state office of the AARP found that residents age 45 and older are 15 times more likely to save through their work using payroll deductions. In part because of a lack of employer-sponsored plans, however, the average working-age household only has $2,500 saved for retirement, and near-retirement households only have $14,500. That leads many to rely upon Social Security in their retirement.

The First State announced a partnership between Delaware EARNS and Colorado SecureSavings Programs interstate Partnership for a Dignified Retirement in late 2023, offering a strengthen vision to improved retirement options for businesses from small to large alike.

“The Delaware EARNS Program Board was pleased to support this historic interstate collaboration to bring a much-needed retirement savings vehicle to Delaware workers,” EARNS Board Chair Fayetta Blake said in a prepared statement in 2023. “Through joining this interstate effort, we’ll greatly accelerate the launch of the EARNS program. Not only will we save start-up time and costs, but we’ll also allow Delaware participants to benefit from economies of scale that will help them grow their savings over time.”

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