Retirement crisis exacerbated by pandemic, study says

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the state of retirement in the United States was already on shaky ground and was made only worse by the financial instability that the pandemic brought to the forefront. Now, as the declaration of the pandemic nears its second birthday, the impact on American retirement is coming into fuller view according to a survey conducted by personal finance website The Penny Hoarder.

17% of respondents report saving less money for retirement due to the pandemic, while 16% reported the opposite: that they were in fact saving more money for retirement for the same reason. Interestingly, the responses related to the retirement savings levels of those surveyed varied notably based on geographic location, with respondents in the Northeast U.S. saying they were more likely to have increased their savings activity since March, 2020.

“From a regional standpoint, people in the Northeast were much more likely to save extra money for retirement in response to the pandemic than respondents in other regions, according to The Penny Hoarder’s data,” the results read. “Among Americans who reported saving more, 44% live in the Northeast.”

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This is in stark contrast to other regions including the South. Only 14% of the more-saving respondents reported that they lived in the Southern U.S., while nearly a third of those who reported saving less said they lived in that region.

“Disruptions in the tourism industry may be causing a slower economic recovery in the South than other parts of the U.S.,” the results read. “For example, in Orlando, Florida – where roughly one in five employees worked directly in hospitality and leisure in 2019 – unemployment rates remained much higher than the national average in 2020.”

Other specific differences tied to regional realities can greatly impact the ability for certain regions’ residents to save for retirement, including median wages, overall cost of living and unemployment levels.

“Among people who are saving less due to the pandemic, 35% live in the Northeast where living costs are high,” the column reads.

Differences are also stark based on the gender of respondents, according to the results.

“Men were considerably more likely to beef up their retirement savings in response to COVID-19 than women: 59% of men are saving more compared to just 41% of women,” the results read.

Age is also a critical factor in the level of retirement savings accumulated since the start of the pandemic, with millennials being the most likely generation to beef up retirement savings at 35%, while members of Generation X were the least likely at 19%.

The survey was conducted in October, 2021 and polled a total of 1,001 people. Read the results at The Penny Hoarder.

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