Baby boomer retirement statistics: how will the baby boomer retirement crisis affect the economy?

1 min readLast updated February 28, 2024by Unbiased team

This article takes you through the statistics surrounding the imminent retirement of the baby boomer generation and explores its implications on the economy, job market, Social Security, and the changes in retirement planning.


  • Baby boomers make up 20.58% of the population, closely following Gen Z at 20.88%. 

  • With 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, the retirement of this group will have a substantial impact on social support systems, the job market, and retirement funds. 

  • Almost half of baby boomers in the US are not saving for retirement. 

  • 3.2 million baby boomers have already entered retirement. 

Baby boomer retirement statistics 

As the third-largest generation, comprising 20.58% of the population, the retirement of baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) is not just a demographic shift; it is a potential crisis that could reverberate throughout the economy.  

Coming in at 76 million individuals, the size of the baby boomer generation is enough to cause a significant impact as they transition into retirement.  

3.2 million baby boomers have already retired, and the crux of the problem lies in a worrying statistic – almost half of all baby boomers have not been actively saving for their retirement

As the baby boomer retirement rate continues to rise, the strain this is putting on social support systems, the job market, and retirement funds raises critical questions about the readiness of both individuals and the broader economic landscape to weather this silver tsunami. 

What is the average retirement savings in the US? 

A crucial aspect of baby boomers’ retirement is their financial readiness.  

The average American's retirement savings is currently $269,078.  

This falls far short of the recommended amount of $572,000, raising significant concerns about the financial stability of retirees and the potential strain on social support systems. 

How are baby boomers affecting the economy? 

The increase in the baby boomer retirement rate will significantly impact the US economy across multiple fronts. First and foremost, it poses a challenge to the job market as experienced professionals exit the workforce, leading to potential shortages in critical sectors. Additionally, the strain on Social Security is a looming concern, with projections indicating potential depletion by the 2030s.  

On the flip side, the size of the baby boomer generation means that their spending habits, even in retirement, contribute substantially to the economy. The retirement crisis hinges on how well the economy can adapt to the changes in the labor force, address potential skills shortages, and navigate the financial implications of a massive demographic shift. 

How are baby boomers affecting the job market? 

Baby boomer retirement statistics show that this generation’s decline in the workforce is causing a significant gap in important industries such as government (Congress: 53%, Senate: 68%) and legal services (law firm leaders: 70%).   

While baby boomer retirement statistics show that there is an initial reduction in unemployment rates as younger generations take up vacated positions, the loss of valuable skills and knowledge from older generations is being termed the “forever labor shortage” as it poses both qualitative and quantitative challenges for industries and sectors that are heavily dependent on experienced professionals.  

How are baby boomers affecting Social Security in the US?  

The baby boomer retirement rate has significant effects on Social Security. With the average baby boomer's retirement savings being on the low side, approximately 39% of the retirement income for this generation comes from government sources. Additionally, the size of the baby boomer cohort is straining the system as more individuals become eligible for retirement benefits.  

This demographic shift, coupled with factors such as increased life expectancy, poses challenges to the long-term sustainability of Social Security. Projections indicate the potential depletion of Social Security assets by the 2030s, raising concerns about the program's ability to continue providing the same level of support to future retirees.  

What are the changes to retirement planning in the US? 

As baby boomer retirement rises, retirement planning has undergone significant changes.  

A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals shifting patterns in baby boomers' retirement plans.  

Unlike earlier generations, which typically followed a gradual exit from the labor force through phased retirement, bridge employment, and labor market reentry, baby boomers are adopting nontraditional retirement pathways.  

The key distinction for baby boomers lies in the timing of their retirement transitions, starting later than their predecessors. This is due to a myriad of factors, including: 

  • Longer life expectancy: Baby boomers’ life expectancy is far longer than their parents’, who were part of the so-called Silent Generation (born 1928-1945). Today, the average 65-year-old is expected to live another 20 years.  

  • Later saving start: Research from the 23rd Annual Retirement Survey of Workers from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies confirms that most baby boomers were mid-career when they started saving for retirement, with a median age of 35. This was due to changes to traditional pension plans and the retirement landscape.  

What was the effect of the pandemic on retirement?  

The COVID-19 pandemic also played a role in shaping baby boomer retirement trends.  

Statistics indicate that 2.9% of adults aged 55-70 who were employed in January 2020 retired early due to the pandemic - another 2.3% delayed retirement for the same reason.  

However, the pandemic's financial impact was particularly evident among millennials, with 24% withdrawing from emergency funds compared to 10% of baby boomers. 

Get expert financial advice 

The statistics around baby boomer retirement paint a vivid picture of the challenges and shifts in the financial landscape. As we face the repercussions on the economy, job market, and Social Security, understanding these numbers becomes crucial for informed decision-making. The sheer size of the baby boomer generation and their economic impact necessitate careful consideration and strategic planning.  

In the face of such significant changes, seeking expert financial advice from a financial advisor you can trust is the best way to plan for your future.  

Unbiased matches you with an SEC-regulated advisor so that you can get the financial advice you need to manage your money successfully.  

Find a financial advisor now 


Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.