With every new year, we like to share some thoughts on the state of the US retirement system. The data suggest that we are making progress in public policy and product markets but there is more work to do. There are some good ideas out there on how to build an even stronger, more inclusive retirement system on top of the SECURE Act (2019), SECURE 2.0 (2022), and the state auto-IRA programs (15 of them and counting).

There is almost $40 trillion in total retirement assets in the US. This is an enormous amount of capital and represents over $200k for every US worker on average. Unfortunately, the distribution is quite skewed with some workers able to build a tremendous amount of savings and others not having access through an employer or struggling to save a meaningful amount.

We have seen steady growth in the number of employer-sponsored plans over the last decade (see chart below). And with the passing of the Pension Protection Act in 2006, auto enrollment has become more of an industry standard, improving the inclusivity of the system—drawing in more younger workers, women, and people of color.

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