The average US worker remains concerned about their retirement even as the stock market reaches new all-time highs. The WSJ reports new data that shows the impact of stagnating wage growth and aging demographics is combining to squeeze individuals as a depressing 57% of Americans reported less than $25,000 in household savings and investments. On the bright side, the latest and greatest 'Cyprus' tax limit appears to be €20,000, or roughly the $25K threshold in the US, freeing those 'un'-wealthy citizens to keep their hard-earned private property.
On the dark side, 28% have no confidence they will have enough money to retire comfortably - the highest level in 23 years.
Americans are living longer and their extended life spans are putting additional strains of pension plans as the percentage of workers who have saved enough for retirement plunged to 66% (from 75% in 2009). What is perhaps more worrisome is the fact that when asked if they could come up with $2,000 for an unexpected need, only about half were sure as the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle persists.
Though older workers fret, it is the younger generation is of more concern given the current central bank policies: "they're never going to be able to create wealth, other than what our generation leaves them and what they do with it, they have more uncertainty than we have."
Workers and employers in the U.S. are bracing for a retirement crisis, even as the stock market sits near highs and the economy shows signs of improvement.
Fifty-seven percent of U.S. workers surveyed reported less than $25,000 in total household savings and investments excluding their homes, according to a report to be released Tuesday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Only 49% reported having so little money saved in 2008.
The survey also found that 28% of Americans have no confidence they will have enough money to retire comfortably—the highest level in the study's 23-year history.
While Americans are living longer, the extended life spans will make it tougher for workers trying to stretch retirement savings and put additional strains on pension plans.
The percentage of workers who have saved for retirement plunged to 66% from 75% in 2009, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute survey.
Only about half of the 1,003 workers and 251 retirees surveyed said they were sure they could come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need were to arise in the next month.
"Workers are recognizing there is a crisis," said Alicia Munnell, director of the Boston College Center for Retirement Research. She noted that companies continue to do away with traditional pensions.
According to the society, a male who reaches age 65 in 2013 is expected to live an additional 20.5 years, up from 19.5 in the earlier projections. Women turning 65 this year are now expected to live an additional 22.7 years, up from 21.3.
Although the increases might seem small, Bruce Cadenhead, chief retirement actuary with Mercer, a consulting unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos., MMC -0.78% said they are the largest he has seen in more than 25 years.
"It represents a meaningful jump in liabilities," he said.
The effect of longer life spans on pension obligations has been dwarfed by the impact of declining interest rates over recent years. Because of the way pension obligations are calculated, lower interest rates means that future obligations are higher today.
But interest rates are likely to rise at some point, which will lessen pension obligations. That is less likely with longevity assumptions.
"Rates can go up," said Rama Variankaval, an executive director in the corporate finance advisory group of J.P. Morgan Chase JPM -1.03% & Co.'s investment bank. "Mortality is more of a one-way street."
... is more concerned about what the future holds for his children, a 51-year-old art director-turned-roadie and a 49-year-old third-grade teacher.
"They're never going to be able to create wealth, other than what our generation leaves them and what they do with it," he said. "They have more uncertainty than we have."