Insights Blog

Are U.S. Workers Ready for Retirement?

April 9, 2015

Brief — SCEPA’s Retirement Equity Lab (ReLab) released a report that is the first to quantify the real effect of the retirement crisis - poverty. 

Authors: Joelle Saad-Lessler, Teresa Ghilarducci, and Kate Bahn

The report, “Are U.S. Workers Ready for Retirement?” identifies the share of people whose projected income in retirement will be below poverty across states. This message of downward mobility is important both to individuals whose retirement institutions are failing them and policy makers who will inherit the impact of increasing poverty on both social welfare and municipal budgets.

Poverty As a Result of Little to No Retirement Savings

  1. 33% of current workers aged 55 to 64 are likely to be poor or near-poor (less than 200% FPL) in retirement based on their current levels of retirement savings and total assets.
  2. 55% of retirees will be forced to rely solely on their Social Security income. 
  3. Some states are worse off than others. 41% of near-retirement workers in Florida may experience poverty or near-poverty in retirement, followed by North Carolina and Texas.

The Failure of Retirement Savings Vehicles 

  1. Almost half of Americans who were working in 2011 were not offered a retirement account at work.
  2. 68% of the U.S. working age population (25-64) did not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan because their employer did not offer one, they elected not to participate or were not working. 
  3. The amounts saved through employer-sponsored defined contribution (DC) retirement plans are only slightly better off than those without a retirement plan.

In The News:
Forbes: The Retirement Crisis: Why 68% Of Americans Aren't Saving In An Employer-Sponsored Plan
Time: 1 in 3 Older Workers Likely to Be Poor or Near Poor in Retirement
Financial Buzz: Retirement Savings Paucity in U.S. Workers 
Employee Benefit News: U.S. Workers Falling Short in Healthy Retirement Savings 
Plan Sponsor: Three-Legged Retirement Income Stool More Wobbly
Columbia Journalism Review: How to Bring Clarity and Urgency to Social Security Reporting