Retirement outlook is ‘alarming’ for Generation X: Report

Bottom half of Gen X earners have almost nothing saved for retirement, report says

Generation X was the first generation to enter the labor market after a shift from pension plans to defined benefit plans. And now this generation, which includes those born between 1965 and 1980 —  is preparing to enter retirement with generally poor standing on savings, according to a report by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS).

“When looking at median retirement savings levels for Generation X, the bottom half of earners have only a few thousand dollars saved for retirement, and the typical household has only $40,000 in retirement savings,” NIRS said in an announcement. “Retirement savings for Generation X is highly concentrated among the highest earners, while Blacks and Hispanics have substantially lower savings and access to retirement plans as compared to whites.”

The report examines retirement readiness measures, including sponsorship, take-up rates, and rates of participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

“Gen Xers are fast approaching retirement age, but the data indicate that the vast majority are not even close to having enough savings to retire,” said Dan Doonan, NIRS executive director. “This really isn’t surprising given the terrible retirement hand that has been dealt to the latchkey generation. Most Gen Xers don’t have a pension plan, they’ve lived through multiple economic crises, wages aren’t keeping up with inflation, and costs are rising. The American Dream of retirement is going to be a nightmare for too many Gen Xers.”

As of December 2020, Gen X represents roughly 20% of the total U.S. population, according to the report. Its co-author, Tyler Bond, research director at NIRS, attributes the lack of readiness to low participation levels in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

“As a result, a large share of Generation X has virtually nothing saved for retirement, and most who are saving are not close to savings targets that will enable them to retire with their current standard of living,” Bond said. “Accruing savings takes time, and Social Security alone won’t provide enough retirement income. So it’s critically important that we change course quickly. The status quo means we are looking at elder poverty for many Gen Xers and pressure on their families for support.”

While much of the reverse mortgage industry’s posture caters to baby boomers, Gen X is experiencing increasing levels of access to reverse mortgage products. While the cohort examined in the report will not qualify for a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) until 2027, certain proprietary products can serve borrowers as young as 55 in some states.

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