The recession will have a long-term impact on retirement incomes even though financial markets recovered from their low points and even for people who did not suffer job loss, according to a study by the Urban Institute.
One major contributor was the slowdown in wage growth, which translates into lower accrued benefits in Social Security, it said. The same is true of federal retirement benefits, which are based on a retiring employee’s highest three consecutive years of salary, and which were affected by the general federal salary freeze in 2011 and 2012.
“Although unusually strong wage growth in coming years could bail out younger workers, there is little recourse for workers now approaching traditional retirement ages. For those age 55 to 59 in 2008, the Great Recession will reduce average age-70 incomes by 5 percent,” the institute said.
It noted that in 2009, the national average wage fell 1.5 percent, the only decrease since that statistic started being kept in 1951.
Lower wage growth also hampered savings, and in addition, because employer contributions to retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s and the Thrift Savings Plan are tied to individual investments, employees on average suffered from that effect, as well, it said.