US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Harkin Statement on New Report Detailing Severity of Retirement Crisis

National Institute for Retirement Security Findings Underscore Need for Action

Thursday, June 20, 2013

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement in reaction to a new study released by the National Institute on Retirement Security, which shows that the retirement crisis is even worse than previously thought:

“The findings of this report show that the chance of a secure retirement for the average American worker is growing fainter by the day. With the average family holding just $3,000 in retirement savings, and nearly half of all workers lacking access to a retirement savings plan, our social safety net will face a great strain in the future. That’s why I have proposed a plan, and will soon unveil a bill, to give every American access to a retirement fund that will give people a secure source of income for life. My USA Retirement Fund proposal would enable workers to save for a secure retirement even as they move jobs, making it easier to plan for the future. We know that we can increase savings rates dramatically by ensuring that everyone has easy, automatic access to a retirement plan, and today’s report shows how critical it is that we take action. Unless we do something to help every American save for retirement, we will face an epidemic of senior poverty in decades to come.”

The National Institute for Retirement Security found:

  • More than 45 percent of working families do not have any retirement account assets, either individually or through an employer.
  • The median retirement account balance for working-age households is just $3,000, and just $12,000 for households near retirement (ages 55-64).
  • The retirement savings deficit—the difference between what Americans have saved and what they should have saved by now for a secure retirement—is between $6.8 and $14 trillion, depending on the assets measured. 92 percent of households do not meet targets for retirement account assets. Previous estimates had placed the deficit near $6 trillion.

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