The Washington Post reported Sunday that the recent economic downturn destroyed nearly 40 percent of Americans’ personal wealth, depleting personal savings and retirement accounts. The recent stock market surge has benefited only the wealthiest Americans, while the vast majority face a retirement that is insecure at best. According to the latest US Census figures, one in seven seniors is living in poverty.
These changes signal a marked deterioration in the living standards of wide layers of the population, reversing a generally steady rise since the enactment of Social Security in 1935. Conditions of retirement also improved in the 1960s, which saw the enactment of Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly, as well as increases in Social Security benefits. These social programs, which pulled large numbers of people out of poverty, are now targeted by both business parties for cuts through changes in the age for eligibility, reductions in real benefits, and privatization.
In what should be a time of enjoyment and relaxation after decades of work, Americans instead are faced with working longer, doubling up with relatives, or turning to social programs such as food stamps to provide for basic necessities. A recent Conference Board survey found that nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 45 to 60 now say they plan to delay retirement, up sharply from just two years earlier, when 42 percent said they planned to work longer.
And then there are millions of us who were forced out of the labor market and cannot get back in on a full-time basis. I am finding it next to impossible to survive.
It's literally nickel-and-diming it every goddamned month, now close to three years since I ran out of UI. I am nowhere near being hired again in any field.
More depressing statistics:
A Fact Sheet from the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA) at The New School reports that in 2010, 58 million Americans ages 50-64 were likely not to have enough retirement assets to maintain their current standard of living when they reached their mid-60s. According to SCEPA’s figures, for those with incomes below the 50th percentile (individuals earning less than $27,468), the median retirement account balance was zero. This means that more than 50 percent have no retirement savings.
Among those aged 50-64, 77 percent in the bottom 25th percentile (incomes of $0 to $10,800) and 66 percent of those in the 25-50th percentile (incomes of $10,801 to $27,468) had no retirement savings whatsoever.
Note the part in the article about 401(k)s, and that of those who managed to save money in them only have a median of 120k in them. It's nowhere near enough to finance a secure retirement. People have NO clue how inferior these plans are to pensions.
And again, where is the outrage?