U.S. market volatility erased $3.4 trillion from 401(k)s and IRAs in the first half of 2022, making for an anxious time for many workers trying to plan their retirements.
The 2022 losses suggest the retirement savings shortfall among U.S. households is worsening from its $7.1 trillion valuation in 2019, an estimate that came out of Boston College. At that time, half of working families faced were at risk of not being able to maintain their standard of living once they retired.
This proportion likely hasn’t changed much since, Alicia Munnell, director of Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, told Bloomberg. The people who profited from gains to stock and housing prices over the past three years “were people who weren’t at risk in the first place,” she said.
“Living standards are going to decline for a large portion of the population who are in retirement — that’s the concern,” Richard Johnson, a retirement expert at the Urban Institute, told Bloomberg. “For people who are not in that age group, it’s still concerning because it could strain the social safety net.”
Boston College’s 2019 report on the national retirement risk index concluded that “the only way to make a dramatic dent in the retirement risk problem is to combine saving more with working two years longer.”
The average age for retirement is the highest it has been for the past 30 years, sitting at 61. Nonretirees’ target retirement age has increased from 60 in 1995 to 66 today, meaning the average retirement age will increase even further in coming years if active workers retire when they plan to.