131,000 Washington employers currently do not offer retirement plans to their employees, leaving 2 million Washingtonians without access to retirement plans through their jobs. This week, the Washington State Department of Commerce announced its plans to help remedy that.

The department recently rolled out the first U.S. Retirement Marketplace online portal. The portal allows businesses and employees to research and shop for affordable, state-verified retirement plans. The online portal offers comparison shopping for those typically not able to invest in retirement, like those who are self-employed, work part-time, or hold temporary jobs such as freelancers.

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah sponsored SB 5826, the bill that led to the creation of the Retirement Marketplace. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law in March.

“Access to affordable retirement savings plans should be available to everyone, especially small businesses and workers in today’s gig economy,” Gov. Jay Inslee stated. “I am proud that Washington is leading the way with the nation’s first voluntary, online Retirement Marketplace.”

Currently, the portal offers five types of 401k plans and Roth and traditional IRAs from Saturna and Finhabits respectively. Eventually, the marketplace will offer even more plans and providers.

Plans listed on the Retirement Marketplace meet guidelines established by the Washington State Legislature, including: they must be reviewed by officials at the Department of Financial Institutions and/or the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, they can’t charge employers with administrative fees, they can’t charge those enrolled over 1 percent in total yearly administrative fees, and they must be renewed yearly to ensure the plan and provider are still on good terms.

In addition to offering affordable and vetted retirement plans, the portal will help seniors play catch-up on saving. “If a 55-year-old started saving now, they could add thousands of dollars to their retirement accounts in just 10 years,” said Doug Shadel, director of AARP for Washington state. “It’s easy to sign up, costs very little to manage and allows employees to carry their savings from job to job, even if they move out of the state.”