Housing Rental Expense killing DC contributions?

Despite the fact that inflation, as measured by the CPI, seems to be contained, rental expense for housing has jumped significantly in the US during the last decade.  As a country we are moving away from being a home ownership society to one that rents housing, as home ownership is now at its lowest since 1967! Furthermore, the only reason the home ownership rate is as “high” as it is, is due to homeowners in the 65 and over age group. For everyone else, home ownership rates are now the lowest recorded.

Compounding this problem is the fact that US household incomes are 7.2% less than they were in 1999. The lower incomes are being crushed by rising housing costs, medical expenses / insurance and education. Is it no wonder that folks don’t have any additional resources to fund their DC plans? What percentage of the US population really has discretionary income at this time?

According to the “State of the Nation’s Housing” report released by the Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, which showed that while inflation among most products and services may indeed be roughly as the Fed and BLS represent it, when it comes to rent things have never been worse.

According to the report, 2013 marked another year with a record-high number of cost burdened households – those paying more than 30 percent of income for housing. In the United States, 20.7 million renter households (49.0 percent) were cost burdened in 2013.  Alarmingly, 11.2 million (25%) all renter households, had “severe cost burdens, paying more than half of income for housing.” The median US renter household earned $32,700 in 2013 and spent $900 per month on housing costs.

So, do you still believe that the failure to fund defined contribution plans is because we have a population hellbent on consumption? The demise of the DB plan means that a significant percentage of our population will never be able to make adequate contributions (if any) into their retirement plan. The social and economic consequences for our country will be grave.

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