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Retirement Savings: 'Late Boomers' Are On The Brink

Retirement Savings: 'Late Boomers' Are On The Brink

August 19, 2023

Baby boomers born from 1960 to 1965 are in big trouble when it comes to retirement savings.

The so-called late boomers, nearing retirement, have less wealth than earlier boomer cohorts, according to a new brief published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Late boomers have low levels of wealth regardless of how it's defined — total wealth, retirement wealth, and 401(k)/IRA wealth. The average amount in a direct contribution plan, such as a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA, for this cadre of boomers was $32,700 compared to $52,300 for mid boomers – those born between 1954 to 1959. Total retirement wealth for late boomers was $299,703 vs. $350,449 for those just a few years older, according to the findings.

This difference "is unprecedented," Anqi Chen, one of the brief’s co-authors and a senior research economist at the Center for Retirement Research, told Yahoo Finance.

The key reason they've fallen behind? "The Great Recession (Dec. 2007-June 2009) hit late boomers during their peak earning years between the ages of 42 and 49," Chen said. "This was meant to be an age when late boomers earned the most and saved more for retirement. But because...many lost their jobs, or had to accept lower-paying jobs, (they) were less likely to participate in a 401(k). So they could not accumulate enough, setting many of them back."

"They have never recovered," she added.

Other factors: a rising share of Black and Hispanic households who earn less than their white counterparts and a declining share of households that are married and have college degrees.

In reality, these late boomers were expected to have some extra lifting to do. A shift from traditional pension plans to direct contribution plans, like 401(k) plans, has hurt. For this subset of boomers, the responsibility to save at work for their own retirement fell squarely onto their shoulders. Click HERE to read more.