Retirement planning

55% of Americans who are working claim to be behind on their retirement savings.

According to a recent Bankrate study, the majority of Americans claim they are falling behind on their retirement savings. And this is true even though almost 3 out of 5 Americans are contributing the same amount or more than they did the year before. Americans cite inflation as a major deterrent to increasing their savings this year.

A total of 55% of Americans believe they are falling short of their retirement savings goals, with over 35% stating they are “seriously behind” and another 20% saying they are “slightly behind.” 52% of Americans claimed to be behind in 2021.

More than one-third of workers believe their retirement funds are “seriously behind,” according to Greg McBride, CFA, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. And employees who already feel behind are twice as likely to make less of a contribution this year than those who feel on pace or in the lead.

Perhaps surprisingly, the results of this year’s poll show that Americans are actually paying more to their accounts than they are cutting down. But what about others who add less? Respondents claim that their capacity to increase their future savings has been diminished by quickly rising inflation.

“Workers who are not increasing their retirement account contributions this year, by more than a 2-to-1 margin over any other single response, attribute disproportionately to inflation as the reason why,” claims McBride.

2,312 American adults were polled by Bankrate regarding their retirement savings. Here are the key conclusions.

  • A little over half of Americans (55%) claim to be behind on their retirement savings.
  • The biggest excuse given by 54% of Americans for not saving more is inflation.
  • A startling 71 percent of baby boomers claim to be saving less than they should.
  • Even higher earners, at 46%, feel they aren’t giving enough.
  • Americans with higher levels of education are more likely to increase their retirement funds.

More over half of Americans claim they haven’t saved enough for retirement.

A total of 55% of Americans believe they are not saving enough for retirement. Those who claim to be “much behind” and “slightly behind” are included in this number.

The breakdown of retirement savings figures is as follows:

  • Nearly 35% of respondents claimed they were severely behind schedule.
  • Nearly 20% reported that their savings were a little behind schedule.
  • Twenty percent or so claimed to be “exactly on pace.”
  • Another 8% reported being “somewhat ahead” of where they ought to be.
  • More than 7% of respondents stated that their savings were “much ahead” of what was required.
  • Another 10% of respondents stated they were unsure of their position.

Despite these figures, the majority of Americans are increasing or maintaining their contributions to their retirement accounts this year compared to last.

  • More than 34% reported making “roughly the same” contributions to their retirement accounts.
  • Over 25% stated they were adding “much more” (25%), “somewhat more,” or “more” (8 percent).
  • In comparison to previous year, about 16 percent of respondents stated they were adding “somewhat less” (7%) or “far less” (9%) than before.
  • However, neither this year nor previous year, 24% of Americans did not make a contribution.

Those who were 25 years old or younger (Generation Z), did not complete high school, or made less than $50,000 annually were most likely to refrain from contributing in either year.

Even if more Americans added to their retirement funds this year than they did last year, the bear market that has devastated equities in 2022 is still likely to be the biggest impact on them.

Only 10% of Americans who are currently on pace or ahead are reducing their contributions this year, while 42% increase them. Only 18% of Americans who are behind on their retirement savings are making greater contributions, while 21% are making less.

According to Americans, inflation is the main reason they aren’t saving more.

What prevents workers from increasing their retirement savings this year? The most commonly mentioned reason for Americans making the same, slightly less, or significantly less contribution as last year was inflation. Participants had the option of choosing multiple answers.

The whole list consists of:

  • Inflation (54 percent) (54 percent)
  • Declining or stagnant income (24 percent)
  • Additional costs (24 percent)
  • Settling debt (23 percent)
  • Wanting to carry extra cash (22 percent)
  • Market turbulence (18 percent)
  • Not in need or desire of raising contributions (7 percent)
  • I’m not sure (7 percent)
  • Another thing (5 percent)

Every generation cited inflation as the primary cause, while the secondary cause varied. For instance, “new expenses” were mentioned by Gen Z (ages 18 to 25) and millennials (years 26-41) at 36 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Baby boomers (ages 58-76) and Generation X (ages 42-57) were the only generations to mention it, with only 15% and 21%, respectively.

The percentage of each age group that kept cash on hand varied significantly: Gen Z was at 35%, Millennials were at 24%, Gen X was at 19%, and Baby Boomers were at 17%.

Baby boomers are much more likely to be saving behind.

Americans’ perceptions of their retirement savings status seem to be closely connected with age, and Gen Z was the only generation to not perceive a severe deficit:

  • Gen Z: 31% are ahead, compared to 30% who are behind.
  • Among millennials, 19 percent are in the lead and 46 percent are in the rear.
  • Only 9% of Gen Xers are ahead, while 65% are in the rear.
  • Baby boomers: Only 7% are ahead, while a staggering 71% are behind.

Additionally, younger workers were more likely to have increased rather than decreased their contributions:

  • Gen Z: Among this generation, 30% raised their contributions, while just 10% decreased them.
  • Millennials: About 30% of them made larger contributions, while 18% made smaller ones.
  • Gen X: About 19% of them increased their contributions, while only 17% of them declined.
  • Baby boomers: Approximately 22% of them raised their contributions, while only 18% lowered them.

Additionally, women (62%) are more likely than men (48%) to report being behind on their retirement funds. In actuality, 41% of women claimed they are far behind.

Even those with larger incomes don’t give enough back.

Although it may be simple to assume that people with higher incomes as a whole are more likely to be prepared for retirement, even this group is not doing all that well, despite being better off than the typical American. The only income group where less than 50% report being behind on savings is that of those making $100,000 or more yearly.

The breakdown of the figures for each group is as follows:

  • When asked about their retirement savings, 46 percent of people who make over $100,000 a year believe they are behind, compared to 23 percent who are ahead.
  • A little over 54 percent of those making $80,000 to $99,999 indicated they were behind while 17 percent claimed they were ahead.
  • About 59 percent of people with yearly salaries under $80,000 were behind on their retirement savings, compared to just 13 percent of those who are ahead.

Americans with higher levels of education are more inclined to increase their retirement contributions.

According to the Bankrate poll, Americans with higher levels of education were more likely to be increasing their retirement contributions than those with lower levels of education.

  • In comparison to a year ago, those with a post-graduate degree are more likely (36%) to have increased their savings than decreased them (14%).
  • Comparatively to a year ago, those with a 4-year degree are more likely (33 percent) to have raised their contributions than lowered them (13 percent).
  • There was a similar split among those who had “some college,” with 21% raising and 21% decreasing their retirement savings.
  • Twenty percent of people with less than a high school diploma are donating more this year than they did last, while fifteen percent are contributing less.


YouGov conducted this study for Bankrate using a telephone survey. During the week of September 21–23, 2022, interviews with a sample of 2,312 American adults were done. Since the data are weighted and meant to be representative of all American adults, they are prone to the statistical flaws that are usually present in data derived from samples.

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