Households that save bring in almost two and a half times more annually than those that do not.
Does America have a retirement security crisis? Yes, and it is very real, according to a hearing held last week before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, as well as a separate report issued by the National Institute on Retirement Security.
“We live in a 401(k) world…that requires American workers to make more financial decisions and assume more risk in deciding how much money to invest and where to invest it,” said Sen. Clair McCaskill of Missouri, ranking member of the committee, in her opening statement. “Due to many challenges, many Americans have not been able to save the necessary funds for retirement.”
How many? According to the NIRS report, nearly 40 million American households—or 45 percent of the population—have no retirement savings. Income, not surprisingly, is the determining factor on what households are most likely to save. Households that save bring in almost two and a half times more annually than those that do not.
And the many challenges, Financial Editor for NBC Today Jean Chatsky testified before the committee, include the switch from defined benefit to defined contribution plans, longevity, healthcare costs, debt, boomerang children receiving parental support that might otherwise have been earmarked for retirement, and a delayed adult lifecycle that finds adults marrying later and starting a family later. For many of those parents, Chatzky observed, “college costs and retirement are uncomfortably close.”
Among affluent households surveyed by Spectrem Group’s Millionaire Corner, the greatest financial fear is outliving their savings, while the greatest financial regret is not saving enough. These concerns are well-founded, testified Dr. Alicia Munnell of Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, who said that the estimated gap between the savings American households need to maintain their standard of living in retirement and what they have actually saved is a whopping $7.7 trillion.
How can Americans bridge the gap? McCaskill announced her support for the Retirement Security Act of 2015, legislation introduced last January by Senators Bill Nelson, Democrat from Florida, and Susan Collins, Republican from Maine and Chairman and Ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
The legislation would encourage small employers with less than 100 employees to offer retirement plans by allowing these business owners to pool together and create what is known as multiple employer plans, which would be administered by a third party to handle administrative tasks.
The legislation would also encourage employees to save more for retirement by allowing employees to receive an employer match on retirement savings plan contributions of up to 10 percent of their pay (currently employer matches are maxed at 6 percent). The bill would help offset the costs of the additional match by providing a new tax credit equal to the increased match.
The legislation was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatves by Reps. Vern Buchanan, Republican of Florida, and Ron Kind, Democrat of Wisconsin.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.