The recession has been hard on most of us. A Brookings study found that American households lost $13 trillion of wealth—that’s more than $40,000/person and about 15% of our net worth. With 15 million Americans jobless—and many of those out of work a long time—many of us are still using up our savings. As a result, many older Americans no longer have enough money to retire.
“Americans’ attitudes toward retirement have clearly tracked the economy the last couple of years, and that seems to be the case in 2010,” says Jack VanDerhei, the director of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). According to an EBRI study, 27% of American workers have essentially no savings at all. And the number of workers who say they are managing to save for retirement has dropped. At the same time, 84% of American workers—near a 20-year high—aren’t sure they have enough money saved for their retirement. A similar percentage of those who have already retired aren’t very confident they have enough money. It’s not surprising, then, that many Americans have decided to delay their retirement for financial reasons. The survey found that 33% of Americans now expect to retire after the age of 65—compared to 24% who planned to wait that long in 2005.
It’s another reminder—if any were needed—of the real cost of our prolonged recession. The financial crisis wiped out more than just paper assets. Most of us can afford less and have to work harder just to get by. And now it looks like many of us will have to work a while longer too.