Last week, the results of a six-month long study on employee retirement preparedness revealed that the majority of American workers will not be able to afford retirement until 73-years of age.
The “Fall 2010 401(k) Retirement Readiness Study” was conducted by Nyhart. The study reviewed almost 10,000 employee retirement accounts from 110 private and public companies throughout the country, assessing how the employees’ personal 401(k) contributions would affect their retirement age. The results showed that most Americans will not be financially capable of retiring on time.
Employees over 55-years old will need to contribute more than 45 percent of their salary for the rest of their career in order to retire by 65. According to the study, the average employee, dependent on their 401(k) for financial stability after retirement, will not be able to retire until the age of 73. By continuing with their current levels of contributions to their 401(k), most American workers between the ages of 60 to 64 will need to work until they are 75 in order to afford retirement.
“Across all age groups and income levels, the employees who contribute the greatest percentage of income have the best opportunity for retirement,” said Thomas Totten, senior actuary and lead researcher for Nyhart’s study. “The decision of how much an employee contributes to their 401(k) far exceeds the importance of which investment funds they choose. By increasing your contribution by just 2-4% of total income, you can shave years off the age you retire.”
The study found that employees’ 401(k) contribution percentages varied by age, typically increasing as the employee found him or herself closer to the age of retirement. The peak ages of contributions are between 55- to 64-years old. Employees with higher salaries are more likely to contribute more to their 401(k), however, Social Security benefits decline as a percentage of income for beneficiaries with higher income, counterbalancing the higher contributions.
Ultimately, the study found that only 19 percent of American workers will be ready to retire at 65. Employees earning between $60,000 to $70,000 annually have the lowest projected retirement age at 69.9-years old. Employees who earn less than $25,000 annually have the highest projected retirement age at 77.9-years old.
Written by Kelly Mellott