Two events happened earlier this week which seem diametrically opposed to one another. The United Way released a study finding that more than 40 percent of U.S. households are above the official poverty line but nonetheless can’t afford the ordinary expenses of a middle-class life. These ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) households are twice as common as those below the poverty line, but they rarely qualify for any forms of assistance. They’re people who work but don’t make enough to cover the basics (66 percent of Americans earn less than $20 per hour, with the three most common jobs in America paying roughly $10 to $13 per hour).
Not surprisingly, this enormous percentage of American households doesn’t have enough in savings to cover a $500 emergency, let alone the extra funds to contribute to retirement savings, which may be why another article released this week drew so much ire. MarketWatch released an article stating “you should have twice your salary saved” in retirement accounts by age 35. Their tweet about the retirement experts’ recommendation received a deluge of sarcastic replies, over 2300 replies as of this writing: