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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Most Americans Have $0 Saved for Retirement: NIRS

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The “typical working American” has no retirement savings, according to a new report from the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Using U.S. Census Bureau data, the report examines median retirement account balances for the entire population of individuals age 21 to 64.

The report finds that almost 60% of all working-age individuals do not own assets in a retirement account, based on the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation data from 2014.

Given that 59.3% of individuals do not own a retirement account, the worker who is in the middle of the overall workforce would have zero retirement savings.

The report finds that nearly 73% of workers in the 21-to-34 age bracket, nearly 56% ages 35 to 44, 52% ages 45 to 54 and 51% in the 55-to-64 age range do not have a retirement account.

The report defines retirement accounts as including both employer-sponsored plans like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, SEP IRAs and Simple IRAs, and private retirement accounts like traditional and Roth IRAs. For the purpose of the report’s analysis, an individual is considered to own a retirement account if his or her total retirement account assets are greater than zero.

While there is the notable gap between older and younger individuals in retirement account ownership, the gap is much wider across income groups, the report finds.

“Individuals with retirement accounts have a higher median income of $51,024, compared to $17,004 among individuals without retirement accounts — three times as large,” the report states.

The report finds that the median account balances are inadequate even among individuals with retirement accounts.

Among individuals approaching retirement (age 55 to 64) with retirement accounts, the average balance was $88,000. According to the report, this amount would only provide a “few hundred dollars per month in income if the full account balance is annuitized, or if an individual follows the traditionally recommended strategy of withdrawing 4% of the account balance per year (this amounts to less than $300 per month).”

The report then looks at retirement savings as a multiple of current annual income.

“This provides a simple gauge with which to evaluate how well individuals are doing in preparing for retirement given their income level,” the report states.

The report finds that 22% of working individuals age 21 to 64 with retirement savings have saved less than a year’s income. Among working individuals closest to retirement (age 55 to 64), 17% of those with retirement savings have saved this amount.

This is far short of what is suggested. For comparison, the report looks at Fidelity standards as a benchmark.

By these standards, early retirees would need to accumulate retirement assets equal to 14 times salary at age 62. The savings target of 10 times income at age 67 is intended to enable income payments to last until age 93.

—Related on ThinkAdvisor: Corporate Profits and 401(k) Plan Performance Go Hand in Hand: T. Rowe Price


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