Black and Hispanic Americans Are Least Likely To Have Retirement Savings
Many American adults, across the board, have either too little savings for retirement or none at all, as the Los Angeles Times reported recently. Baby Boomers in the age range of 56-61 theoretically have about four years until retirement, but the average retirement savings account in this group is only $17,000. In 2007, it was twice that amount. Almost half of all Baby Boomers don’t expect to retire when they reach 65, and one in 10 believe they’ll never be able to retire.
Much of the problem, Think Progress reported, is due to the fact that so many employers ditched pension plans in lieu of 401(k) plans during the 1980s. 401(k)s are contribution plans that aim to provide retirement savings in theory, but they don’t actually guarantee any savings in practice.
These plans operate on the basis that employees will be willing to contribute to their 401(k) plans while they’re still working full time — but planning for the future in this way means that employees aren’t bringing home as much income right now.
These plans make it pretty easy for middle class and upper-middle class workers to start a concrete savings plan, but it’s incredibly difficult for lower-income workers to contribute to a 401(k).
It’s becoming obvious now that the rise of 401(k)s has created an economic divide and much of it is defined by race. As CNN reported, 65% of white families in the U.S. are likely to have retirement savings in the form of a 401(k) or IRA plan. Just over 40% of black families have these savings, and only 26% of Hispanic families in the U.S. have these savings.
The Economic Policy Institute recently released a comprehensive report on this trend and it’s disconcerting, to say the very least. The majority (at least 60%) of black and Hispanic families in the U.S. have absolutely no retirement savings at all, while only 30% of white families say the same. And the amount of retirement savings in these accounts is notable too: the average white family with a retirement savings has around $73,000 saved up. The average black or Hispanic family, however, only has $22,000.
Although many Americans seem to be focused on “narrowing the wealth gap” between “the 1% and the 99%,” a real solution might take more than some basic financial management.