NEW YORK (MainStreet) – If you're a senior citizen living anywhere in the U.S. that isn't Nevada or Washington, D.C., you're not making nearly enough off of your retirement investments.
According to a survey by financial advisory site Interest.com, senior citizens in 49 of 50 states aren’t replacing enough of their pre-retirement income. Financial advisors commonly caution retirees to produce at least 70% of the annual income they earned during their working years. But only seniors in Washington, D.C., and Nevada clear that bar.
It's particularly troubling for retirees in Massachusetts and North Dakota, where seniors bring in less than half as much money as Massachusetts residents between 45 and 64 years old. But Massachusetts has always had a high cost of living, while North Dakota watched its incomes and cost of living soar as the oil boom brought a whole lot of fracking money with it.
“Many Americans are struggling to make ends meet in their golden years,” says Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com. “Especially in high-cost areas such as the Northeast, retirees are not only competing against the higher incomes of their younger counterparts, but they are also battling higher costs for housing, gas, food and other necessities.”
Interest.com drew its conclusion by consulting the Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey (the most recent edition) and divididing the median annual household income in each state for those who are 65 and older by that state's median annual household income for those between 45 and 64 years old. Only Washington, D.C., (74%) and Nevada (71%) climbed above 70%.
“The D.C. area’s retirees do particularly well for themselves,” Sante says. “This is likely due to the fact that the D.C. area has a large number of retired federal employees, many of whom are able to reap the benefits of pension plans.”
It's not that states are missing by all that much. Retirees in 28 states are able to replace 60% of their pre-retirement income or better, up from just 19 states in 2012. People age 65 and older in Hawaii (69%), Arizona (68%) and Mississippi (68%) sneak just under the bar, with Florida a bit below. Those numbers are particularly noteworthy in retirement havens such as Arizona, Florida and Hawaii, with the latter two states seeing their populations of people ages 65 and up rise to roughly 27% in recent years.
Most other states where income replacement hovers around 65% have relatively low overall median incomes for people of all ages, along with lower costs of living. That includes Southern states such as Mississippi, Arkansas and South Carolina.
As the qualifying age for Social Security benefits rises and pension disappear in favor of 401(k) accounts and IRAs, U.S. retirement accounts have suffered. The median amount in retirement accounts for Americans within 10 years of retirement is less than $120,000, which is about $400 a month in income. The average Social Security retirement benefit at the start of 2014 was only $1,249 a month, or less than $15,000 a year. That's $1,600 a month for all expenses, which is forcing a whole lot of retirement-aged folks back to work.
The good news is that in the past two years, when wages flattened out for most of the country, Social Security's cost of living increases were roughly 5.1%. Also, the Census Bureau found that workers age 65 and over “were the only ones not to see a decline in the employment share from 2005 to 2010.” They weren't doing great, but they weren't faring as badly as, say, millennials.
Still, economists agree that a 57% to 59% replacement rate isn't great. Unfortunately, without saving more heavily during one's working years, the only way to make that situation better is to either not retire at all or still spend part of one's time on the job. It's kind of retirement, but also kind of disheartening.
— By Jason Notte for MainStreet
>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.
>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.
>To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.