17 Retirement Statistics You Should Know in 2021 - MagnifyMoney

17 Retirement Statistics You Should Know in 2021

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From individual retirement accounts to employer-sponsored 401(k) and 403(b) plans, the average American household has seen retirement accounts grow by 5%.

Our 2021 retirement statistics guide aims to provide a well-rounded view of trends, from average retirement savings to how many Americans have retirement accounts to retirement planning. First, here are 17 essential retirement statistics.

17 key retirement statistics

  • The average U.S. household had $255,200 in their retirement accounts in 2019, a 5% increase from $243,500 in 2016.
  • The median retirement account balance in the U.S. was $65,000 in 2019, a 2% increase from $63,800 in 2016.
  • The average 401(k) balance in the third quarter of 2020 was $109,600, a 4% increase from $105,200 in the third quarter in 2019.
  • 51% of American households had at least one type of retirement account in 2019, a 3% decrease from 2016.
  • 58% of people ages 45 to 54 (portion of Generation Xers) and 55% of people ages 55 to 64 (portion of baby boomers) have retirement accounts.
  • Only 26% of Latino families have retirement accounts, versus 35% of Black families and 57% of white families.
  • The average retirement age in the U.S. is 66 years old, though 74% of Americans said they plan to keep working after retirement.
  • The average American feels they need to save $1.9 million for retirement.
  • 30% of Americans with retirement accounts reported withdrawing money from them in the first 2 months of the coronavirus crisis. On average, those who withdrew funds took out $6,757.
  • 47% of American savers have either stopped or lowered their retirement savings contributions, citing the COVID-19 crisis.
  • 10% of Americans who lost their job or were furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic are now expecting to retire earlier.
  • 4 in 5 Americans lack retirement planning basics on how to be finally secure.
  • About 35% of employers are automatically enrolling new employees into their sponsored 401(k) accounts, unless participants opt out.
  • 71% of Americans 70-plus are worried their Social Security will run out.
  • The average retired couple leaving the workforce in 2020 will need an estimated $295,000, post-taxes, to pay for health care expenses — not including long-term care.
  • Retirement-age adults carry the most non-mortgage debt in 4 Texas metros: San Antonio, Houston, Austin and Dallas.
  • The most popular retirement destinations for adults 65 and older are Phoenix, Tampa, Fla., and North Port, Fla.

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Average retirement savings: $255,200

The average American feels they need $1.9 million in savings for retirement, according to Charles Schwab. But, according to the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, households have an average retirement account balance of $255,200.

Average 401(k) balance: $496,853 for 55- to 64-year-olds

The average 401(k) account balance is just under $500,000 for Americans ages 55 to 64, according to wealth management company Personal Capital.

Portion of Gen Xers have highest percentage of retirement accounts

Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) people ages 45 to 54 — portion of Gen Xers — have retirement accounts, versus just 45% of those younger than 35 — portion of millennials and Gen Zers.

Retirement planning: Nearly 7 in 10 have nothing written

Nearly 7 in 10 (67%) of Americans don’t have a written retirement plan, according to the American College of Financial Services.

A similar percentage — 68% — identified the amount of money they would need saved to retire comfortably. Separately, the majority of Americans (82%) have a plan on where their retirement income will come from each month.

30% made early retirement withdrawals during initial stages of COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19 spurred 3 in 10 Americans to withdraw funds early from their retirement accounts, according to a 2020 survey from MagnifyMoney, with an additional 19% potentially planning to withdraw in the future.

Nearly 3 in 4 plan to continue working after claiming Social Security benefits

The percentage of Americans planning to work after they claim Social Security benefits has been increasing through 2020, according to retirement savings platform SimplyWise. The percentage was 65% in May, but rose to 74% by November.

Social Security tops list of retirement concerns

Social Security running out and having enough savings to pay daily living expenses are the main concerns for Americans in their 50s, according to SimplyWise.


  • Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances
  • Fidelity Investments
  • Gallup
  • Charles Schwab
  • SimplyWise
  • American College of Financial Services
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Personal Capital

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