By John Ramos

ANTIOCH (KPIX) — How much are you saving for retirement? If the answer is nothing, it turns out you have a lot of company and some feel a financial crisis is coming because of it.

Antioch is the kind of middle-class city that feels all the effects of the new economy but gets few of its benefits. And now a study by UC Berkeley’s Labor Center has discovered that nearly half — 48 percent — of California’s private sector workers, ages 25 to 64, have no retirement assets at all.

Kenya Johnson lives in Antioch and, like a lot of people these days, she works part time and can’t put aside the money she would like to.

When asked if she looks forward to retirement, Johnson replied “I used to but now? No.”

An Antioch non-profit called “Opportunity Junction” provides job training and career counseling to people who have been shut out of the tech-centered economy.

“Our clients, when they come to us, are in a position where they need to work,” said vice president of programs, Brianna Robinson.

“They have no income or very little income and their immediate need is, ‘how am I going to pay my PG&E bill?’ not ‘how am I going to retire in a few years?'”

And in today’s rapidly-changing workplace, the study shows that 3 out of 5 employees aren’t even offered a way to save for retirement.

So the state has created a program called “CalSavers” to act as an automatic savings program similar to a 401(k). But, with millions of people approaching retirement age with no money, Robinson has a sobering warning for those who have saved.

“I think we’re going to come to a time when everybody’s going to have to help contribute to all the people who need it in the community,” she said.

And while that may seem unfair to some, St. Mary’s Professor of Finance Kirk Knapp says providing basic sustenance to large masses of people may be necessary to keep society from falling into anarchy and violence.

“It may need to come to that to protect ourselves against physical attack,” Knapp said, “We’ll pay money for that –everybody would. We don’t want to but it’s better than not.”

No one is really sure where this economy is going to take us but one thing seems pretty clear: those people who do have resources are going to be called upon to take care of those who don’t.

The Antioch non-profit will host a workshop on the CalSavers retirement program on August 27th. For more information, go to OpportunityJunction.org.

(Opportunity Junction fights poverty by helping low-income Contra Costa residents gain the skills and confidence to get and keep jobs that support themselves and their families)

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