Over Half of Americans Have Nothing Saved in a Retirement Account

The median retirement account balance among all U.S. workers is "zilch"

The National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data and learned that, among all working Americans, the median retirement account balance is zero. Further findings were that 57%, or 100 million Americans, own no assets in a workplace retirement plan, individual retirement account (IRA) or pension.

Four out of five working Americans have less than one year’s income saved in retirement accounts. Seventy-seven percent fall short of retirement savings targets for their age, based on working until they reach 67. Moreover, a large majority of working Americans are unable to meet even a substantially reduced savings target.

Growing income inequality widens the gap in retirement account ownership. Workers in the top income quartile are five times more likely to have retirement accounts than workers in the lowest income quartile. Individuals with retirement accounts have more than three times the annual income of individuals without any.

“The facts and data are clear,” says Diane Oakley, executive director of NIRS. “Retirement is in peril for most working-class Americans. When all working individuals are considered—not just the minority with retirement accounts—the typical working American has zero, zilch, nothing saved for retirement. What this means is that the American dream of a modest retirement after a lifetime of work now is a middle-class nightmare. Even among workers who have accumulated savings in retirement accounts, the typical worker had an account balance of $40,000.”