Senior citizens advocacy group AARP is launching a national campaign to meet face-to-face with business leaders, civic groups and companies to convince more employers to automatically enroll their workers in 401(k) plans, the Associated Press reports.

As of 2005, only 17% of 401(k) plans offered automatic enrollment, according to an AARP study of 794 large U.S. employers.

With people living longer, healthcare costs increasing and fewer companies offering traditional pension plans, the AARP says individual savings like the 401(k) will be essential to avoid a retirement crisis.

“We’re still people whose parents and grandparents had traditional pensions,” said Jean Chatzky, financial expert and editor for NBC’s “Today” show. “We’ve got a generation of people that we really have to get up to speed.”

AARP officials say many younger workers assume their retirement plan will include regular pension checks when they should be saving or investing part of each paycheck.

According to a study by consulting firm Towers Perrin, only three in 10 workers participate in a 401(k), and of those who do, many don't contribute enough to receive matching contributions from their employers.

AARP’s campaign will focus on convincing small- and medium-size employers to boost 401(k) participation by 10% in each of the next three years.

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