Ever wondered how millionaires are born? Pure luck? As many in the startup world say?or by simply making smart Decision making As your wealth manager recently asked, what are your plans for retirement?
It’s easy enough, they say. Maximize your 401(k) and take advantage of matching contributions provided by your employer. so. That’s how most Americans become millionaires. At least according to the property manager. According to the Capgemini World Wealth Report 2022, the number of billionaires in the United States increased by 13.5% from 6.6 million in 2020 to 7.5 million in 2021.
It’s easy enough. just do it.
The reality is that not everyone has access to a 401(k) plan. Nearly half of private sector employees between the ages of 18 and her 64, or 57 million Americans, have no option to save for retirement at work, according to the latest report from the AARP Policy Institute.
- About 78% of companies with fewer than 10 employees and about 65% of companies with 10-24 employees have no plans.
- Nearly three in four workers without a high school diploma do not have an employer-provided retirement plan, compared to those with a college degree (50%) or bachelor’s degree or higher (32%).
- The 46 million workers earning less than $50,000 a year — 81% of the 57 million — do not have access to retirement plans provided by their employers. Arguably, these workers are also the ones who can benefit most from having a consistent savings mechanism.
Unfortunately, access to retirement plans also varies widely by demographic. About 64% of Hispanic workers, 53% of Black workers, and 45% of Asian American workers do not have access to retirement plans provided by their employers.
This challenge is exacerbated by the changing nature of work.
According to the most recent American Opportunity Survey (AOS) by McKinsey, “36% of employed respondents (estimated from a representative sample, representing 58 million Americans) identified themselves as independent workers. I’m here.”
This group cuts across all ages, education levels, and incomes, including immigrants, young workers, economically less established people, and high-income earners. Many face barriers to health and financial well-being, and only 32% of independent workers have access to health insurance through their workplace or union. Without a stable salary provided by your employer, you are also likely to face additional financial challenges, such as access to credit.
It reminds me of the saying: Economic inequality is a policy choice.
According to the World Economic Forum, the United States ranks 27th (out of 146 countries) for gender equality. Unfortunately, I am not surprised. Women make up the highest percentage of minimum wage workers in nearly every US state.
Consider these amazing stats from Oxfam.
- About a third of America’s workforce earns less than $15 an hour, and about 52 million workers and their families struggle to make ends meet.
- 40% of women (31 million) earn less than $15 an hour, compared to 25% of men, including half of working women of color.
- 57% (11.2 million) of working single parents earn less than $15.
From earnings to executive positions to political representation, women are underrepresented. Despite making up more than 50% of the population, a woman makes up only about 27% of members of Congress and her 25% of Fortune 500 board seats.
So, dear friends and colleagues, now that you have statistics (again), what are you going to do about them? How can we advocate for policy as a society, and how can we, as an industry, create more empathy and solutions that matter?
After all, it’s also a choice. And the choice is ours.
About the author
Theodora (Theo) Lau is the founder of Unconventional Ventures. She is co-author of her Beyond Good and co-host of One Vision, a podcast on fintech and innovation.
He is also a regular contributor to industry-leading events and publications, including Harvard Business Review and Nikkei Asian Review.