Retirement golf course

When the nation's financial system almost crashed back in 2008, it's easy to see why anyone approaching retirement would have panicked. They saw their lifelong savings plummet as home and stock prices spiraled. For 60-somethings, it seemed there wouldn't be enough time to make up all their losses.

As it turns out, today's retirees have it better than generations before them, according to a new report. Baby boomers lost big when the housing bubble went bust, but they also gained big during the dotcom and housing bubbles of the early to mid 2000s. And so oddly enough, this gave them a decent cushion to comfortably kiss their days working full-time goodbye.

These boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1955, may be the last group on track with enough retirement savings to last them through their golden years, according to a report released Thursday by Pew Charitable Trusts, a Washington D.C.-based public policy think tank.

They are retiring with a bigger nest egg than those born around the Great Depression between 1926 and 1935, as well as the generation born around World War II between 1936 and 1945, according to Pew. What's more, they are better off today than Gen-Xers or today's 40-somethings born between 1966 and 1975.

Pew's study looked at how the Great Recession affected the wealth and retirement plans of baby boomers, compared with Americans younger and older than them. It divided the baby-boom generation into two groups: early boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1955 and late boomers, who were born between 1956 and 1965. While early boomers may be retiring comfortably, late boomers will struggle.

Before the economic downturn in December 2007, early boomers had more savings than generations before them. By the time they approached retirement in their late fifties and sixties, their median wealth was just over $241,000. By contrast, war babies when they were at those ages had $170,604, and Depression babies had $162,222.

What's interesting is that boomers weren't always on track to retire with more savings. In their forties and fifties, war babies had higher median wealth, $156,521, than boomers with $131,761. The difference is that during the dotcom and housing expansions, boomers between their forties and sixties saw their assets grow by 83%. By contrast, war babies saw only 9% growth between the same ages a decade earlier.

While that's good news for today's retirees, the next generations face less certain futures.

Over the past two decades, Depression and war babies have been shedding debt while boomers and Gen-Xers have been accumulating it. Everyone lost money during the Great Recession, but Gen-X took the hardest hit. Boomers may have lost 28% of their median net worth, but Gen-Xers, who had less time to build their savings, lost nearly half (45%) of their wealth or about $33,000.

True, this generation has a few more years to rebuild their savings, but they likely won't be able to replace their income as well as as boomers have. Going by the theory that people should have enough savings and wealth to replace at least 70% of their income in retirement, Gen-Xers are in a rough spot. Late boomers are on track to replace nearly 70% to 80% of their income in retirement. By contrast, Gen-Xers, at the median, are expected to replace only about half of their income in retirement.

As Pew notes, all this gives policymakers more reason to pay special attention to the obstacles that today's 40-somethings face as they head into retirement.

What's also worth noting is that if Gen X faces so much uncertainty in their golden years, millennials born in the 1980s and 1990s may have it worse if the job market doesn't turn around soon. Many started their careers after the bust of the dotcom and housing bubbles and barely, if at all, benefited from those good old days. Many also entered the early part of their working years during one of history's deepest recessions. True they have many more working years ahead of them, but studies have shown that spells of joblessness early on could have lasting negative impacts on future earnings and employment.

In recent years, ownership of homes and stocks, which have historically made up the bulk of American wealth, has steadily declined. If the trend continues years from now, it's worth watching how millennials will fare as they approach retirement, particularly as the future of social security becomes even less certain.

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Lawrance Jackson

Well best option to get out of this concern for Gen x can be start saving as early as they can rather than waiting for situation to change.

May 22 2013 at 7:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Liberals look the other way when it comes to Obamas Appointed job czar Jeff immelt and the 1000's and 1000's of jobs he's created overseas.

May 21 2013 at 11:01 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Obamacare is going to cost triple the amount that Obama said it would. Insurance companies are going out of business. All those people will be losing their jobs. Many have families to support. I guess we'll see more people living in poverty under Obama.

So sad to see that Obamaliedagain.

May 21 2013 at 10:58 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

4 Americans die and Hillary says what difference does it make. And liberals have the gall to say that they're compassionate

May 21 2013 at 10:55 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

You know you've posted the truth when liberals have to sign in under multiple screen names to vote comments down.

May 21 2013 at 10:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to obamaisafiasco's comment

See what I mean!

May 21 2013 at 10:58 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

My buddy Bush doesn't have to worry, not only did his mommy and daddy give him handouts but he'll be living of of taxpayer money the rest of his life. It amazes me that he spent more time at his ranch than he did in the white house.

Obama spends most of his time telling lies, attacking American citizens, playing golf, and campaigning (even though the elections been over for months), instead of being in the White House doing his job.

Obamas real good about running one thing, his mouth!

May 21 2013 at 10:51 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

It will take decades to recover from the Pelosi Reid recession of 2008.

May 21 2013 at 10:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

In the 2012 elections more than half of all Americans don't trust us republicans to run the economy. I wonder why? Do you think it had something to do with the Great Economic Collapse of 2008?....DUH?............HEE............HAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The reasons why Obama won in 2012 is he lied, and many of his lies are coming out now. He promised more welfare, he gave out free cell phones for votes. He didn't mention Obamacare, which members of his own party are calling a disaster.

May 21 2013 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bruce Huddler

Baby Boomers are fine??? You must be joking, keep saying that and maybe it could come true.
Part time work for last six years after loosing my home and business, no retirement no medical.
Yea Right, Doing Fine.

May 21 2013 at 10:21 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Boomers are fine? For being out of work for 5 years, and the economy bottomed out, I dont have a 401K or any retimrement besides SS. Everything moved outside of the US, nobody is hiring here for anything substancial. There is no hope for most people who fell off the "Statistical realm of unemployment" as we are considered no longer looking, which is alot of crap. I cannot see a doctor cause i cannot get medical help. For those who moan about abusers, yes there are some....But I worked 40 years to earn that right for my food stamps at least. But being over 55 isnt getting anyone to look my way, hire me, or offer me any help.

May 21 2013 at 9:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply