401(k)/IRA Holdings in 2019: An Update from the SCF

IB#20-14

The brief’s key findings are:

  • The 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances offers a picture of households’ 401(k)/IRA assets after a period of strong economic growth and stock market gains.
  • And these balances may not differ much from today, as the market is modestly higher in 2020 and most job losses have been borne by those without a 401(k).
  • For working households nearing retirement with a 401(k), median combined 401(k)/IRA balances rose from $135,000 in 2016 to $144,000 in 2019.
  • $144,000 provides a married couple with only $570 per month in retirement.
  • The bigger problem is that only half of households have any 401(k)-related assets.
  • The main reason for low savings is the lack of continuous coverage, so the solution is for policymakers to mandate coverage for all workers.