A new survey of 452 small business owners in Connecticut with fewer than 50 employees found two out of five don’t provide a retirement savings plan. The survey conducted by AARP also found that one out of five business owners don’t have a retirement plan for themselves.

The most common reason cited for not offering a plan to their employees was cost. However, 64 percent of those who do not currently offer a retirement plan said they would use the public plan if it was offered.

Connecticut is laying the groundwork for a public retirement plan. A law was passed last year that created the Retirement Security Board, which is using private funds to create a plan that would allow workers to contribute to a fund managed by the state through a payroll deduction.

The Retirement Security Board co-chaired by state Comptroller Kevin Lembo and state Treasurer Denise Nappier received $250,000 from the Arnold Foundation to do a market feasibility study.

“Connecticut is leading the nation in efforts to improve the financial security of its residents by creating an affordable, accessible retirement savings plan that would make it easier for small businesses to offer retirement accounts to their employees,” AARP state director Nora Duncan, said. “Small businesses in Connecticut support this effort because they know it will help improve the financial security of their employees — and their bottom line.”

Those surveyed told the AARP they favor low-cost, voluntary plans that would follow employees from job to job, offering flexibility and security for the future.

The survey found 60 percent support a Connecticut retirement savings plan.

Eric Gjede, assistant counsel at the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, he doesn’t doubt that businesses want low-cost retirement plans for their employees. However, he just doesn’t think the answer involves government.

These low-cost plans already exist in the private market, Gjede said.

He said the private industry has to do a better job of educating people about these retirement plans, but getting the state involved in this is not the answer to the problem. He said there needs to be a greater effort by the private sector to educate consumers about some of these products.

But AARP supports the work of the Retirement Security Board.

“The retirement plan would be a win-win for small businesses owners and employees,” Duncan said. “Employees would get an easy, convenient way to save on the job, and owners would get a turnkey solution to offer retirement benefits to their employees. It would give their business a competitive edge in the marketplace and help with employee recruitment and retention.”

The Retirement Security Board meets the first Wednesday of the month, every month.