Saving for retirement is lacking

Study points to gap as National Retirement Security Week approaches

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Oct. 4, 2018 – Working-class Americans have very little saved for retirement despite the recent economic recovery, the National Institute on Retirement Security said in a recent study.

Citing U.S. Census Bureau data, NIRS pointed out that 100 million Americans lack any retirement account assets. Thus, the median retirement account balance among all U.S. citizens is zero. More than 57 percent of working-age Americans have no pensions, 401(k) accounts or personal savings dedicated to their retirement.

“The typical working American has zero, zilch, nothing saved for retirement,” Diane Oakley, NIRS executive director, said in the report, titled “Retirement in America Out of Reach for Most Americans?”

Oakley’s comments are timely as National Retirement Security Week approaches Oct. 21-27. In late September, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution supporting the goals of and ideals of the event, with a goal of increasing the retirement savings and financial literacy of all Americans.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House passed the Family Savings Act, which is expected to help families save for retirement and ensure their savings last as long as they live.

OPERS members should know that our mission is to provide them with retirement security. An OPERS pension pays a set amount every month for the life of the member, with additional benefits to beneficiaries available. Also, as a public employee in Ohio, OPERS members can supplement their retirement benefits through savings plans offered by OPERS and Ohio Deferred Compensation.

The NIRS report said highly paid workers are five times more likely to have retirement accounts compared with workers in the lowest income quartile. Those with retirement accounts have, on average, more than three times the income of those without such accounts.

NIRS mentioned several factors that point to the lack of retirement funding:

  • A sharp curtailing of pension plans for those in the private sector
  • The emphasis on 401(k) plans over pensions
  • Increases in the Social Security retirement age
  • The 2008 financial crisis

The report also found that 77 percent of Americans come up short on retirement targets for their age and income, based on working until age 67.

Recommendations include strengthening Social Security and expanding the availability of low-cost, effective retirement savings plans for all workers.


Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

2 thoughts on “Saving for retirement is lacking

  • October 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    I can sure identify with this. Thank goodness for OPERS and your stability in these difficult times. A good pension plan with a healthy financial balance seems to be pretty rare, even in the public sector.

  • October 8, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    “increasing……financial literacy” – that is a key. How many OPERS members avail themselves the Deferred Compensation Program? The Program also offers counseling about investments and the benefits of using the program. Let’s be honest – “deferring gratification” is a major factor in folks to having a cushion for retirement. When I retired from State service I was able to cash in hundreds of hours of unused vacation time and sick leave not used (and abused) which made for a substantial cushion to my pension. I also had a financial planning license and was frustrated when trying to encourage my co-workers to use the plan or to discourage them from foolishly taking their pension in a lump sum at retirement. I had the same “bumps in the road” during state service both personally and professionally, so my empathy for those who do not plan is limited .


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