1 in 4 Americans have no retirement savings — and those who do aren’t saving enough

Americans are under-saving for their retirement, according to PwC’s Retirement in America report.

One in 4 Americans have no retirement savings and those who are saving aren’t saving enough, PwC U.S. Asset Manager and Wealth Management Leader Bernadette Geis told Yahoo Money.

"Those that are [saving], on average, what they have saved will afford them like $1,000 a month of actual cash while they're in retirement," Geis said.

The report found that the median retirement account balance for 55-to-64-year-olds is $120,000. When divided over 15 years, that would generate a modest distribution of less than $1,000 per month and even less for those who outlive their life expectancies.

The lack of retirement preparedness is leading to a path of a looming "crisis," Geis said, as Social Security is projected to be depleted by 2034 and “there's a huge demographic that aren't likely to meet their savings goal.”

Among those 60 years old or older, 13% have no retirement savings. That number increases to 17% among 45 to 59-year-olds, 26% among 30 to 44-year-olds, and 42% for those between the ages of 18 to 29.

'There are not cost-efficient and affordable plans available'

There are several factors that have contributed to this bleak outlook awaiting for many Americans. 

According to PwC research, a major one are the expenses for employer-sponsored retirement plans provided by small business owners. 

Read more: Here's how your retirement income is taxed

“There are not cost-efficient and affordable plans available for small businesses, which is still a very large segment of the U.S. economy,” Geis said.

The proposed solution? Geis suggested having more available multi-employer defined contribution plans in the marketplace for employees of several small businesses to be able to pool their resources similar to the plans available to employees of medium and large-sized corporations. 

"If there was greater adoption of these multi-employer plans and greater participation, you'd get the saving rate up just by that alone," she said.

Read more:Ask the expert: How to build an emergency fund after the pandemic

Another step to mitigating the crisis is educating and incentivizing people to participate in their available retirement plans.

Getting people to save more is “a combination of bundling more of the employee offering to the benefits,” Geis said, citing that employers should require participants in student loan payback programs to apply what they would pay on their loans to their 401(k)s.

The industry could also benefit from a tech integration to democratize information. Personal finance has seen an injection of tech automation of transfers, balance alerts, and reminders that benefit savers, but AI integration stops with retirement accounts. According to Geis, the country’s savers would benefit from receiving reminders or push notifications to look at balances or forecast models, change contribution rates, and update their asset allocations.

“There's no tool today to give people that information and you have to be fairly sophisticated to be able to do all of that on your own, which is a challenge for a lot of people,” she said. “If providers and 401(k) record keepers could adapt to this new technology, and push more out plan participants, forcing engagement, that certainly could give rise, too.”

Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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