Your Retirement Outlook Is Terrible and Depressing

Everyone who bothers to punch a few numbers into a calculator can tell you that most Americans have absolutely no hope of saving enough money for retirement. It's dog food days all around. The latest figures show that we are more confident about our retirement prospects, but just as broke as ever.

News headlines today are trumpeting the "increasing confidence" of Americans headed towards their rapidly tarnishing golden years. But that increase in confidence comes only among those who know they have savings put away in a retirement plan. Big deal! Fuck them. Let's look at the big picture. A new EBRI survey shows that, yes, overall confidence about "having enough money for a comfortable retirement" among workers is up— all the way up to 18%. Even that tiny margin of sunlight is not without a notable qualification: "This increased confidence is observed almost exclusively among those with higher household income, but it was also found that confidence was strongly correlated with household participation in a retirement plan." So, those who know they have enough retirement savings are confident they have enough retirement savings. Great.

The real retirement story is rather grim: 58% of workers "report having a problem with their debt." Only two out of three workers "report they or their spouse have saved for retirement." At all! And even among those who have saved, this is the picture:

A sizable percentage of workers report they have virtually no savings and investments. Among RCS workers providing this type of information, 36 percent say they have less than $1,000 (up from 28 percent in 2013), although those who indicate they and their spouse do not have a retirement plan (either an IRA, defined contribution, or defined benefit plan) are far more likely than those who have a plan to be in this group (73 percent vs. 11 percent). Moreover, 68 percent with household income of less than $35,000 a year have savings of less than $1,000. Of those who have saved for retirement, only 38 percent report savings of less than $25,000.

When it comes to retirement "less than $1,000" won't get you far. (Neither will less than $25,000, for that matter.) This is why we need a real system of national pensions. Or, at minimum, dog food subsidies.

[Photo: Flickr]