Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.
True, this has been a refrain for longer than many can remember. But now some disturbing numbers show exactly how bad it’s gotten. Two-thirds of all Americans don’t contribute anything to a 401(k) or other retirement account available through their employer.
Millions aren’t saving on the job because they either don’t have access to a workplace retirement plan or they do but aren’t putting money in it. Many just can’t spare the cash, but a new analysis shows there are other reasons, too.
Until now, the exact size of the problem has been unclear. Surveys can be unreliable: Small businesses are difficult to assess, and many workers just don’t know what plan options they have, especially if employers aren’t making much effort to sign them up. Information on a 401(k) may be part of a stack of paper handed out on their first day, that they don’t read or understand, and ultimately set aside and never think about again.
Now, U.S. Census Bureau researchers have come up with estimates that rely on tax data, which should be more reliable than surveys. Their conclusion: Only about a third of workers are saving in a 401(k) or similar tax-deferred retirement plan. Also, the gap is far wider than expected between the number of employers offering retirement plans, and the number of workers saving in them.