By: Tyler Durden / Zero Hedge One out of every six American retirees is a millionaire, according to a new report by investment manager United Income, which notes that the average retiree’s wealth has risen over 100% since 1989, to $752,000 – while the share of millionaires has doubled.
“Retirees are healthier and wealthier than any previous generation,” reads the report.
While income inequality has remained about the same since 1989, a rising stock market has resulted in a 42% rise in wealth inequality among American retirees.
“People have held incomes and spending constant over time,” said Matt Fellowes, United Income’s founder and chief executive officer. “The wealthiest retirees are wealthier but are not spending more, relative to previous generations.”
The gap between the wealthy and the ultra-wealthy has also widened. The wealth of the median millionaire rose by about 12 percent from 1989 to 2016, while the median millionaire’s equity position was swelling from 27 percent of financial accounts to 55 percent. The wealth of the top 1 percent of millionaires, meanwhile, more than doubled, from $14.9 million to $31.3 million, in 2016 dollars, as their equity positions jumped from 30 percent to 69 percent, according to the report. –Bloomberg
“It’s clear that the dividends from being an investor are paying off for retirees fortunate enough to have savings and investments,” said Fellowes. “What’s discouraging is that those who are not saving or investing are just getting left progressively farther and farther behind as each successive generation enters retirement.” In other words, if you want to retire wealthy, you better be rich to begin with.
The analysis uses data from various sources including the Federal Reserve Board, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Centers for Disease Control, for their in-depth analysis of the changing lives of retirees in the US.
“Credit card use has also grown broadly, but more as a cash management tool than a lifestyle-enhancing product. In particular, since 1989, the share of retirees with credit card debt grew from 18 percent to 33 percent. But the average balance among all retirees is just $1,504, or four percent of the average income among retirees. That number may be lower than what is optimal, if retirees are instead withdrawing money from investment accounts to fund spending volatility due to unexpected expenses, which grow in frequency as households age.” (United Income)
The study also reveals that 62% of retirees enjoy their sunset years without physical or cognitive problems – up from just 49% in 1963 when such data was first taken.
Perhaps that has something to do with the reduced financial stress retirees are under compared to three decades ago. While around the same number of people are dependent on Social Security for 50%+ of their income, nearly half of retirees are living on minimum wage or less, and those living below the poverty line has decreased from 14% to 12%.
“As retirees have become increasingly healthier and wealthier, they are staying put, choosing instead to live in urbanized communities close to amenities they have known as workers. In fact, there is no relationship between where retirees live and the state’s tax rate, crime rate, or weather. In addition, even though the cost of living is more expensive for growing shares of retirees who remain in high-cost areas of the country, the propensity of serious consumer finance challenges among retirees has also declined.”
And here’s some additional trivia: retired Americans love their TV!
“The largest change in activity is a near doubling of the amount of time retirees watch TV over the past 40 years,” the report notes.
The average retired 60-year-old now watches television almost three hours every day. The increases were largest in high-income, highly educated households, which experienced a 78 percent rise in couch time since 1975, versus 43 percent for lower-income households. –Bloomberg
In fact “for every 10 minutes of time added onto the life of a retiring 60-year-old, the share of time spent awake and in front of a TV every day among retirees increased by about one minute, compared to about a 20-second increase in the amount of time spent on exercise, outdoor activities, or sports,” reads the report.
That said, for all the TV retirees are watching, they may not be learning much from their viewing habits, suggests the report. Pew Research Center reveals that over 55% of households over the age of 65 watch cable new programs, while “one multi-country study found that public broadcast news (such as PBS) increased political knowledge, while cable news actually reduced knowledge that people have about actual events.”
And while American retirees may be a bunch of rich, TV watching, financially sound folks – they’re also living longer thanks to advances in diet and medicine, with the average 60-year-old living nearly 10 years longer than their TV-less ancestors in 1900.