In a newly released WSJ/NBC news poll, only 13% of Americans expect to retire before age 60, down 10 points since 1999. At the same time, 28% of workers now expect to retire beyond age 70, if at all, which is up 10 points. Alarmingly, 43% of working class whites, mostly in rural areas, now expect to retire after the age of 70. The social and economic impact of our declining retirement readiness is upon us!
What is interesting about 1999 is the fact that most DB plans in the U.S. were fully-funded at that point. Instead of locking in that success, plans and their consultants threw caution to the wind by significantly reducing fixed income exposure as interest rates fell, while loading up on equities and alternatives. That decision has crippled Pension America, as funded ratios have plummeted and contributions costs have escalated.
With the demise of the defined benefit plan and the greater reliance on the defined contribution plan, this social and economic divide between the haves and the have-nots will continue to be exacerbated.