In light of some recent discussions here at TMV about various entitlement programs — particularly Social Security — CNN Money has a timely article out:
The percentage of workers who said they have less than $10,000 in savings grew to 43% in 2010 from 39% in 2009, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s annual Retirement Confidence Survey. That excludes the value of primary homes and defined-benefit pension plans.
The primary “value of one’s primary home” is, in fact, as shelter, and it’s way past time to exclude that from everybody’s calculations. The defined-benefit plans, unfortunately, are a horse of a different color, and although the actual report (pdf here) discusses SS separately, it’s clear that Americans are “banking” on it:
Although the vast majority of retirees (96 percent) report that Social Security provides a source of income for their and their spouse’s retirement (68 percent say it is a major source of income), workers and their spouses continue to expect to piece together their retirement income from a wide variety of sources. Seventy-seven percent of workers expect Social Security to be a major or minor source of income in retirement, but they believe that personal savings will also play a large role.
I recommend the graph at the top of page 36 (Figure 39) if you’re still in doubt about whether people view SS as their Golden Years Chariot.
It would be easy to pin this on the current economy, but that would be a mistake.
While VanDerhei attributed the decline in current savings rates to job losses, mortgage problems and the suspension of corporate 401(k) matches in 2009, he said the economy isn’t entirely to blame.
“In previous years, there were a whole lot of people who had nothing to begin with,” said VanDerhei.
Americans haven’t been realistically projecting or saving for quite a long time, and the correlation with SS expectations is not coincidental.
So. Enormous reliance on Social Security. Not saving worth a darn. When one adds in the short-sighted structure of SS, it’s pretty clear that this is not going to end well.
Not at all.