The baby boomer 'nest-egg myth': By the numbers
Boomers are reaching retirement age, but many aren't sufficiently well-off to stop working. Here's a stats-based overview of the problem
The oldest members of the baby boom generation are turning 65 this year, but many are woefully unprepared financially to stop working. The "nest-egg" is a myth, says Susan Jacoby in the Los Angeles Times, noting that nearly half of older Americans have no income from stocks and savings accounts. And, even those wealthy enough to have some sort of nest egg have far too little in it, according to Federal Reserve data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal and Boston College's Center for Retirement Research. Here, a brief guide, by the numbers, to the "nest-egg myth."
65Age the oldest baby boomers are turning this year
More than 8.5 millionProjected number of Americans who will be over age 85 in 20 years
Less than 25 percentAmount the median household headed by someone aged 60 to 62 has of the retirement savings needed to maintain his or her standard of living, according to data from the Federal Reserve. "Inevitably, we find that, for the average person, there is not enough there," says financial adviser Paul Merritt. "The discussion turns out to be: What kind of part-time work do you want to do after you retire?"
About 50 percentAmount of wealth lost by baby boomer households between 2004 and 2009, due to shrinking 401(k) accounts and the real estate collapse
Only 50 percentShare of working Americans that have tax-sheltered retirement accounts
75 percentNumber of Americans over 65 whose annual income (including Social Security) is less than $34,000, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. "Furthermore, household income drops precipitously with every decade, and most of the poor in their 80s and 90s are women, who — unless their husbands possessed vast wealth — are very likely to become poorer when they are widowed."
85 percentAssumed share of a household's pre-retirement income needed to maintain the same standard of living in retirement
$87,700Median income, in 2009, for households nearing retirements (with heads aged 60 to 62) that have 401(k)-type accounts
$74,545The 85 percent of that salary needed for requirement
As much as $35,080 a yearAmount Social Security will provide for such a household
$149,400Amount the median 401(k) plan holds, according to the Center for Retirement Research
$9,073Amount per year such an account would provide a household, less than 25 percent of the $36,465 needed
9 percentThe current median amount that people contribute to 401(k) plans, including employer contributions, according to Vanguard Group, a leading provider of the plans. "In general, people facing problems today got too little advice, or bad advice," says Browning. "They didn't realize that a 6 percent annual contribution, with a 3 percent company match, might not be enough."
12 to 15 percentAmount, including employer contribution, that Vanguard recommends people contribute to their 401(k) plan