90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Is The 401(k) Working?

Is the 401(k) working as a retirement plan for the American public? A lot of account balances say maybe not.

Photo Illustration (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

Photo Illustration (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

Back in the day, the 401(k) – if you had one – was just a supplement to a good old-fashioned pension. An optional way to juice up your retirement. Today, for most Americans, pensions are history and the 401(k) is the main event, after Social Security. And 401(k)s are failing.

Millions of Americans are barreling toward 65-plus with very little in the sugar bowl. The stock market has tanked and tanked again and looks shaky right now. Most human nature may not be cut out for sophisticated investing. Is there a better way?

This hour, On Point: Is the 401(k) a bust? And what would be a better way?

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist and nationally-recognized expert in retirement security. She’s an economics professor at The New School.

David Wray,  president of the Plan Sponsor Council of America, a national, non-profit association of companies that sponsor profit sharing and 401(k) plans.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “The only thing I haven’t dealt with on my to-do checklist is retirement planning. The reason is simple: I’m not planning to retire. More accurately, I can’t retire. My 401(k) plan, which was supposed to take care of my retirement, is in tatters.”

CBS News “The state of retirement savings in America is in big trouble. According to Fidelity Investments, the average 401(k) balance among its 11.8 million accounts increased to $74,600 at the end of the first quarter 2012, a 62 percent increase since the end of the first quarter 2009. While it’s good news that balances are up, the number of accounts is alarmingly low for such an industry giant.”

Time “One of the biggest flaws in most people’s retirement plan is something that previous generations rarely worried about: monthly income guaranteed for life. But the fix is in, and before long your 401(k) may look a lot more like your dad’s pension.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Nov 28, 2014
Kaname Hayashi, a project leader of Humanoid Robots "Pepper," talks with the robot at SoftBank Mobile shop in Tokyo, Friday, June 6, 2014. The cooing, gesturing humanoid on wheels that can decipher emotions has been unveiled in Japan by billionaire Masayoshi Son who says robots should be tender and make people smile. (AP)

Robot love, robot work, “killer robots” – we get the latest on robots moving deeper into life.

Nov 28, 2014
Poet Malcolm London. (Courtesy Malcolm London)

From Chicago, a young, new poet gives voice to one of America’s great cities, and its tough streets. Malcolm London joins us.

RECENT
SHOWS
Nov 27, 2014
Bob Dylan and Victor Maymudes at "The Castle" in LA before the 1965 world tour. Lisa Law/The Archive Agency)

A new take on the life and music of Bob Dylan, from way inside the Dylan story. “Another Side of Bob Dylan.”

 
Nov 27, 2014
On Point host Tom Ashbrook raises a toast with a glass of fresh apple cider in the On Point studios. (Jesse Costa / WBUR)

All about hard cider. It’s all over these days. And sweet, fresh apple cider, too. We’ll look at the history and comeback.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Last-Minute Thanksgiving Luxury
Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014

Our three Thanksgiving chefs offer up their best bets for delicious, last-minute holiday helpers, including a crunchy celery salad and maple glazed carrots.

More »
Comment
 
Calling All Interns, Calling All Interns
Monday, Nov 24, 2014

Have you ever thought about interning with On Point Radio? Good news: your time is now!

More »
Comment
 
The Explicast, Episode Six: What Does A White House Press Correspondent Do?
Friday, Nov 21, 2014

We turn to White House Press Correspondents all the time for news, but we’ve never really wondered how they gather their information. Fortunately, our guest host Jessica Yellin had time to sit down with The Explicast to explain.

More »
1 Comment