Closing The Gap

58% of men were able to continue saving for retirement during the pandemic—but only 41% of women were

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The Covid-19 pandemic altered the retirement plans of about 69 million Americans, according to a new analysis from Age Wave and Edward Jones

Of Americans planning to retire, about 32% say they'll be retiring later than expected because of the pandemic, according to the report. About 11% say they'll retire earlier.

But while men's confidence that they'll be able to retire when and how they want is on the mend, women's confidence in their retirement savings took a nosedive during the pandemic and hasn't fully recovered. 

"This pandemic really hit women very hard," says Maddy Dychtwald, co-founder of Age Wave. "They have been hit much harder than men. It has had the result that they've saved less for retirement — and they have saved less through the pandemic."

During the pandemic, 41% of women say they've been able to continue to save for retirement on a monthly basis, compared to 58% of men, according to the report. That halt in retirement savings, among other factors, is causing the gender economic gap to widen, Dychtwald says.

That makes sense when you consider that women's unemployment rates were higher than men's throughout the pandemic and many of the sectors hardest hit by Covid-19 shutdowns employ more women than men

But even before the pandemic, women had less confidence in their retirement savings rate and plans. And for good reason: Women typically earn less than men and, in turn, have lower lifetime savings rates. 

If a man and woman both work full-time from the ages of 23 to 65, because of the gender pay gap, a woman will typically earn about $469,000 less than the man, according to the report from Age Wave and Edward Jones

And that doesn't take into account that women are more likely to take time out of the workforce. Among baby boomers, for example, women took an average of eight years off work between the ages of 18 and 52, according to the report.

That time away typically puts women's lifetime earnings even further behind men's — about $1.1 million less when you take into account lost income, promotions, Social Security and pensions. 

For women who feel behind in saving for retirement, the first step to address the issue is awareness, Dychtwald says. Then, women can begin to work on a comprehensive financial plan to get them on track to save for retirement they want. Research shows those who have a financial plan generally have more confidence and typically have more success achieving their financial goals.

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