Nov 16, 2019

Poll: Retirement hopes — and fears

Data: SurveyMonkey online poll with a margin of error of ±2.5 percentage points; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans' sentiments about retirement illustrate the impact of growing socio-economic inequality in the country.

The bottom line: Inequality is cyclical. Poorer, less educated, marginalized Americans face more hurdles to reaching a comfortable retirement. Meanwhile, wealthier Americans are more likely to have the luxury of retiring or working as long as they want.

69% of adults who make more than $100,000 annually said they were hopeful about their retirement versus 49% of those whose income is less than $50,000, according to an Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

The big picture: U.S. jobs with the highest median ages — signaling more elderly employees — range from CEOs with a median annual income of $183,300 to motor vehicle operators who make a median of $26,600 a year, as Axios has reported.

  • Elderly people in high-paying, less physically demanding jobs are able to keep working and making more money to fund a nicer retirement.
  • Meanwhile Americans with lower incomes are more likely to have health problems, preventing them from working longer to save more for retirement.
  • "They're the ones who could benefit the most from working longer. But they are the ones who are least able to work longer," Urban Institute's Program on Retirement Policy director Richard Johnson told Axios.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Deep Dive: Retirement becomes more myth than reality

Data: U.S. Census Bureau and PNAS; Chart: Naema Ahmed

The number of Americans in the workforce who are over 64 years old has tripled over the past 30 years.

Why it matters: Delayed retirement is a sign of health and affluence for some and a continued life of hardship for others. As society ages and people live longer, a 21st century idea of retirement is needed, Steve Vernon of the Stanford Center on Longevity tells Axios.

The millennial retirement savers

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In an age where “ok boomer” is a rallying cry for young people fed up with older people who don’t understand them, stereotypes abound of millennials spending money poorly.

The big picture: Labor economist Teresa Ghilarducci tells Axios that millennials don't behave differently than prior generations — they're just thrust into different circumstances. They’re less likely to be offered pensions or qualify for employer-sponsored retirement plans, so they start saving later in life and accumulate less compared to their predecessors. Two-thirds of millennials have no retirement savings at all.

Go deeperArrowNov 16, 2019

Uptick in riskier annuities purchases

Data: Secure Retirement Institute; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Purchases of variable annuities hit a three-year high last quarter, according to new sales figures released by the Secure Retirement Institute.

Why it matters, per Axios Business Managing Editor Jennifer Kingson: Variable annuities, meant to generate income in retirement, fluctuate depending on the performance of various markets. The fact that consumers are buying them is another indicator of economic confidence.

Go deeper:

Keep ReadingArrowNov 20, 2019