While some (very few) industry experts say there’s little or nothing to fear on the retirement front, deep down inside we all know it’s not true.
How else to explain how worried everyone is about retirement?
Insecurity on the job (or a complete absence of employment), low and frozen salaries, high expenses and unpredictable markets have thrown people into a tizzy over how they’re going to afford to retire, or how they might be able to cheat their retirement demons by continuing to work.
Why, it’s enough to give a person gray hair (assuming they don’t have it already).
And now a new report from the National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators, Inc. (NAGDCA) has provided a whole host of statistics that is just about guaranteed to strike terror into the heart of anyone who’s ever contemplated retirement — even as an intellectual exercise.
It certainly has done so for them; here’s their opening sentence: “The unfortunate state of Americans’ financial preparedness for retirement is well-documented, and may be summed in two words: NOT READY.” (Bold caps theirs, by the way.)
One thing they’re super-worried about is the looming disaster of health care costs for retirees — something that they say nobody is ready for, and that most people don’t even seem to realize will become a major problem.
We’ve pulled out 10 statistics from NAGDCA’s report that seem to us to rank pretty high on the nightmare list.
We offer them here for your delectation — and to keep you awake at night when you need to stay alert and figure out how to get more money to pay those senior bills.
1. 22 percent
Just 22 percent of workers are very confident they will have enough money in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 25th annual “Retirement Confidence Survey.”
2. 45 percent
According to recent Congressional testimony, 45 percent of Americans have saved exactly nothing — zero, zip, nada — toward retirement.
In fact, although lots of higher-net-worth folks have — and use — retirement accounts, those on the lower end of the spectrum are truly ill-prepared to venture forth into retirement.
Said the testimony, “Overall, the average working household has little to nothing saved for retirement. The median retirement-account balance is only $3,000 for working-age households and only $12,000 for households approaching retirement. In two-thirds of working households with earners between ages 55 and 64 years, at least one earner has saved less than one year’s income for retirement.”
3. Not seen since the Great Depression
According to the report, that’s the magnitude of the financial challenges that will be faced by upcoming retirees — the first generation since that terrible time to do so.
Image: Three men stand in front of the dispensing kitchen of the Greater New York Philanthropic Society where penny meals, that are quite substantial, are served to the hungry, in New York, Aug. 3, 1932. The soup kitchen has been functioning since 1908 and is supported by private contributions. (AP Photo)
4. 20 years beyond age 65
That’s the expected additional lifespan of a woman of 65 — two years longer than a man — but it’s likely to bring her a lot of financial grief.
Women will face even greater challenges than men (see No. 3) because a) they live longer and b) they make less.
Add to that the fact that, according to Department of Labor statistics, they’re more likely to have worked “part-time jobs that don’t qualify for a retirement plan or interrupt their careers to take care of family members, resulting in lower retirement plan savings.”
Despite being diligent savers when they do have access to retirement accounts, the fact that women are not inherent risk-takers works against them in the market, driving down returns on their savings (although they will, of course, have larger balances than men who take crazy risks and lose everything — just not large enough balances to live on for another 20 years).
5. One out of six
Just one in six employers offers health insurance coverage to retirees these days.