By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia residents are less prepared for retirement than most Americans. New research prepared for a city council committee shows they’re also more likely to struggle in their senior years. The committee is exploring how to improve retirement savings.

The study from the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis was released Wednesday during a hearing by Council’s Committee on Labor and Civil Service.

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Witnesses testified there is a retirement crisis in the U.S. but the situation in Philadelphia is especially troublesome.

“A higher proportion of seniors are in or close to poverty,” said Anthony Webb of the Schwartz Center for Policy Analysis, “and a higher proportion of workers are at high risk of retiring in poverty.”

The study found that in Philadelphia, 20 percent of retirees are poor, compared with 9 percent nationwide, and 30 percent have incomes between 100 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level, compared with 23 percent nationwide.

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Webb says fewer Philadelphians work for employers who offer retirement plans and, even those who do, participate in smaller numbers.

“Extending retirement plan coverage to these households will not give them the retirement of their dreams,” Webb said. “But expanded coverage would lift significant numbers of households out of poverty and near poverty.  The sooner we act, the more of these households can be helped.”

The hearing was called by Labor and Civil Service Committee Chair Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, who also invited officials from New York and Maryland, who are in the process of adopting publicly funded retirement plans for private sector employees who don’t have them.

“People are starting to wake up and realize that we have a real retirement crisis on our hands, which is impacting the country as a whole and Philadelphia in particular,” Parker said. “While we would love for federal officials to craft a solution, it’s clear that big cities like New York and Philadelphia must take action now. We need to put this on the front burner of issues that need to be addressed in the city of Philadelphia.”

Parker says she doesn’t favor a particular solution, but thinks it’s clear the city needs to do something.

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“We recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” Councilwoman Parker said, “but we look forward to coming up with viable options to address the needs of Philadelphia residents.”