Surveys find that barely 1 in 5 Americans are confident of their ability to support a comfortable retirement – and unfortunately for good reason.
In 2014, according to the Federal Reserve, 31 percent of working Americans reported having “no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.”
Many Americans think of savings as a matter of willpower and personal behavior – much like dieting and exercise. It’s one reason why the worsening state of Americans’ retirement security – now approaching crisis proportions – has yet to emerge as an issue that demands extensive government intervention.
In truth, the nation’s retirement savings crisis is as much a problem of public policy as it is about how Americans manage money. Families face massive structural barriers that no amount of personal financial discipline can overcome. Among the reasons retirement is increasingly unaffordable:
1. One in three Americans lacks access to an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan.
Research finds that people are more likely to save for retirement if they’re enrolled in an employer-sponsored retirement plan (and especially if enrollment is by default). Yet in March 2015, just 49 percent of Americans working in private-sector jobs were participating in an employer-provided retirement plan such as a 401(k), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).