The Retirement Crunch

June 7, 2019 • Volume 29, Issue 21
Are wage earners saving enough for life after work?
By Heather Kerrigan


For many Americans, the ability to live comfortably after they stop working is becoming increasingly difficult. While experts differ over whether this constitutes a crisis, they agree that a significant share of workers face a gap between what they have saved and what they will need in retirement. One estimate puts this gap at $3.83 trillion. The shortfall stems from several factors, including inadequate saving, lack of access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the spread of nontraditional work arrangements and a nationwide shift away from pensions with a set payout toward defined-contribution plans that place more responsibility for saving on the individual. The problem affects every age group to some degree. Private businesses and state governments have made efforts to better prepare people for retirement, but these programs often have limited reach. After failing to take meaningful action for more than two decades, Congress is showing renewed interest in the issue, and a handful of bills are making their way through the legislative process.

Monte Hitchcock (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Chris Bergin)
Monte Hitchcock, a former longtime employee of the Marsh Supermarkets chain, talks about retirement savings in his Muncie, Ind., home last year. Hitchcock faced the prospect of a reduced pension after the grocery chain filed for bankruptcy in 2017. According to a 2018 Federal Reserve survey, one-fourth of working adults have no retirement savings. (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Chris Bergin)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Older Americans and Senior Citizens
Jun. 07, 2019  The Retirement Crunch
Sep. 30, 2011  Prolonging Life
Mar. 15, 2011  The Graying Planet
Oct. 13, 2006  Caring for the Elderly
Feb. 20, 1998  Caring For the Elderly
Aug. 01, 1997  Age Discrimination
Dec. 06, 1991  Retiree Health Benefits
Aug. 19, 1988  The Elderly in an Aging America
Nov. 21, 1986  Home Health Care
Aug. 06, 1982  Housing Options for the Elderly
Nov. 10, 1971  Plight of the Aged
Nov. 06, 1963  Nursing Homes and Medical Care
May 20, 1959  Housing for the Elderly
Sep. 04, 1957  Health of the Aged
Aug. 01, 1949  Older People
Mar. 29, 1938  The Job Problem for Older Workers
Aging Issues
Elderly Health Issues
Employee Benefits
Fair Housing and Housing for Special Groups
Low Income and Public Housing
Nursing Homes and Long Term Care Facilities
Retirement, Pensions, and Social Security
Social Security
Unemployment and Employment Programs