It’s not exactly news that Americans’ overall retirement savings are greatly amiss. But the actual magnitude of that disconnect between what we know we’re supposed to save and how much we’re actually putting away is shocking.
A new study by the National Institute on Retirement Security spells out this shortfall in scary-low numbers, and finds that with the median retirement account at a mere $3,000, the average American working family has virtually zero retirement savings.
Those nearing retirement are no better off. When the study focused on just the demographic approaching that benchmark (people age 55 to 64), they found that less than 5% had savings that were on track to meet standard targets. All in all, the report calculates that the national savings gap could tally up to $14 trillion.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
The study pinpoints the savings shortage on more than just the recent economic crisis, also noting that only half of private employees today are offered retirement benefits through their employer—that’s the lowest it’s been since 1979, and is likely compounding the problem.
Without some improvement, the study suggests that the country is setting itself up for heavy dependence on public assistance, younger generations and social service organizations to help with the future retirement burden. “The ‘American Dream’ of retiring after a lifetime of work will be long delayed, if not impossible, for many,” according to the report. Perhaps this could be a wake-up call to save more for retirement.