Retirement Income Deficit Estimated at $6.6 Trillion

The gap between what Americans need for retirement and the amount they have saved is a staggering $6.6 trillion according to Retirement USA, a coalition of workers’ groups, said in a study recently published.

“While policymakers talk about budget deficits, there is a massive and growing Retirement Income Deficit that has largely been ignored by Washington,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center.  “The Retirement Income Deficit shows just how bad the crisis has become.”

The Retirement Income Deficit is calculated by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, based on projections of retirement income and wealth for American workers ages 32-64.


“It is important to remember that $6.6 trillion is a conservative figure,” said Maria Freese, director of government relations and policy for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “Using other assumptions, it could be much higher.  The number should be a wake-up call.”

Retirement USA is convened by five organizations – the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Pension Rights Center, and the Service Employees International Union – that recognize that retirement income security is a major issue of concern for current and future retirees.


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  • It is not surprising to see the SEIU as a party to this study. Few of their members have ever been covered under defined benefit plans. It is looking to validate the need for its members to obtain retirement benefits in collective bargaining.

    It is much different with the AFL-CIO. Over the last three decades, the affiliated internationals have had to negotiate away many of their benefits including multiemployer defined benefit plan benefits. They are looking to increase retirement benefits in their bargaining.

    One financial drag of this century will be longevity. While it is a blessing that such a large segment of society has seen real gains in lifespan, it comes at a horrendous financial cost. With the latest losses in American wealth, how will this shortfall be met? It will not come through home equity alone.

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