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'These People Didn't Do Anything Wrong,' But Their Standard of Living Might Plummet in Retirement — Here's Why Most American workers feel behind where they think they should be on their retirement savings.

By Amanda Breen

Key Takeaways

  • Although Boomers are the richest generation in history, those on the younger end might not be prepared for retirement.
  • Americans born between 1960 and 1965 have less retirement wealth and savings than their older counterparts.
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Fifty-six percent of American workers feel behind on their retirement savings, and Gen Xers (ages 43-58) are the most likely to say they're not on track, according to a recent Bankrate survey.

A robust four decades of growth in housing and stock prices made baby boomers the richest generation in U.S. history, per Bloomberg, but some of the youngest among them aren't set up for an adequate retirement either.

Related: This Is the Key to the Retiree Lifestyle You Want — and the Income You Need

"Later boomers," Americans born between 1960 and 1965, have less retirement wealth and significantly less retirement savings than older boomers born between 1942 and 1959, according to a recent paper from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Adjusted for inflation, at ages 51 to 56, the average late boomer (households in the middle 20% by wealth) had roughly $280,000 in combined wealth from Social Security, pension benefits, and 401(k)-type retirement plans, the research found.

At the same time, the typical "mid boomer," born between 1954 and 1959, and the average "early boomer," born between 1948 and 1953, had in the vicinity of $350,000 in total retirement wealth, with "early boomers" coming out slightly ahead.

Related: This Retirement Trend Is Helping People Ease 'Financial Anxieties' and Avoid 'Loss of Purpose,' Workplace Expert Says

The Great Recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009 and was the longest economic downturn since World War II, decimated the housing market and stock prices as late boomers were in their top earning years, which put pressure on their retirement savings, USA Today reported.

"The reality is, people were forced to make financial decisions, put food on the table, a roof over their heads," Josh Hodges, chief customer officer at the National Council on Aging, told the outlet. "What it comes down to is, these people didn't do anything wrong."

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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