The notion of pensions — and the idea that companies should set aside money for retirees — didn’t last long. They really caught on in the mid–20th century, but today, except among government employers, the traditional pension now seems destined to be an artifact of U.S. labor history.
The first ones offered by a private company were those handed out by American Express, back when it was a stagecoach delivery service. That was in 1875. The idea didn’t exactly spread like wildfire, but under union pressure in the middle of the last century, many companies adopted a plan. By the 1980s, the trend had profoundly reshaped retirement for Americans, with a large majority of full-time workers at medium and large companies getting traditional pension coverage.
via The Week America’s reluctant septuagenarian workforce