Monday, May 9, 2016

Burtless: Put a Retirement Plan in Every Workplace

I’ve been late in posting this piece by Brookings Institution economist Gary Burtless, but it’s a nice perspective on what we can do to improve retire saving.

The argument that our retirement system has gaping holes is well founded. The notion that it faces an imminent "crisis" is nonsense. If the system currently faces a crisis, it has faced the same one for the past 40 years. While elderly Americans have seen their incomes and living standards improve in recent decades, the median working-age family has experienced little improvement in its real income. Nonelderly families that depend solely on the earnings of breadwinners who have below-average schooling saw a drop in their incomes.

In recent research with Brookings colleagues, I tracked the real incomes of families headed by aged and nonaged Americans. In the 34 years ending in 2012, the median real income of working-age families climbed a little more than 2 percent (in other words, by less than one-tenth of a percentage point per year). The median real income of families headed by someone past 62 increased a little more than 40 percent. The numbers suggest our retirement system is doing a decent job improving the living standards of the aged. Unfortunately, the labor market is doing a much worse job boosting the living standards of middle-class wage earners.

You can read the whole article at Real Clear Markets.

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