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Monday, September 25, 2023

What is the average retirement savings by state?

What is the average retirement savings by state?

map of U.S.
09.30.2021

Everyone wants to know the magic number you need to save for retirement.

But does where you live have an impact on your retirement savings?

We set out to answer this question by looking at the average retirement savings of the millions of people who use Empower's Personal Dashboard™. This allowed us to assess how much people had in their retirement nest eggs, broken down by age, generation and state.

Let’s dive in.

The average retirement savings by state

Average retirement savings balances

State Average retirement balance Rank
AK $503,822 4 out of 51
AL $395,563 36 out of 51
AR $364,395 46 out of 51
AZ $427,418 31 out of 51
CA $452,135 17 out of 51
CO $449,719 19 out of 51
CT $545,754 1 out of 51 (BEST)
DC $347,582 49 out of 51
DE $454,679 14 out of 51
FL $428,997 28 out of 51
GA $435,254 26 out of 51
HI $366,776 45 out of 51
IA $465,127 11 out of 51
ID $437,396 25 out of 51
IL $449,983 18 out of 51
IN $405,732 33 out of 51
KS $452,703 15 out of 51
KY $441,757 23 out of 51
LA $386,908 39 out of 51
MA $478,947 8 out of 51
MD $485,501 7 out of 51
ME $403,751 35 out of 51
MI $439,568 24 out of 51
MN $470,549 9 out of 51
MO $410,656 32 out of 51
MS $347,884 48 out of 51
MT $390,768 38 out of 51
NC $464,104 12 out of 51
ND $319,609 50 out of 51
NE $404,650 34 out of 51
NH $512,781 3 out of 51
NJ $514,245 2 out of 51
NM $428,041 29 out of 51
NV $379,728 42 out of 51
NY $382,027 40 out of 51
OH $427,462 30 out of 51
OK $361,366 47 out of 51
OR $452,558 16 out of 51
PA $462,075 13 out of 51
RI $392,622 37 out of 51
SC $449,486 21 out of 51
SD $449,628 20 out of 51
TN $376,476 43 out of 51
TX $434,328 27 out of 51
UT $315,160 51 out of 51 (WORST)
VA $492,965 6 out of 51
VT $494,569 5 out of 51
WA $469,987 10 out of 51
WI $448,975 22 out of 51
WV $370,532 44 out of 51
WY $381,133 41 out of 51

Anonymized user data from the Empower Personal Dashboard™ as of 9/29/2021.

There are a few specific regions that seem to stand out the most in terms of top ranking. If you compare East Coast versus West Coast, it’s clear East Coasters are tucking away more in their retirement nest eggs. Connecticut leads this year’s top 5 list with an average retirement savings of $545,754. Fellow East Coast states also included in the top 5 are: New Jersey (2nd – $514,245), New Hampshire (3rd– $$512,781), and Vermont (5th – $494,569).

Top 5 2021
CT $545,754
NJ $514,245
NH $512,781
AK $503,822
VT $494,569

The lone state representing the west region in the top 5, Alaska ranks fourth with an average balance of $503,822.

As far as the bottom of the list goes, the states are Utah (1st bottom – $315,160), North Dakota (2nd bottom – $319,609), Washington D.C. (3rd bottom – $347,582), Oklahoma (4th bottom – $361,366) and Mississippi (5th bottom – $347,884).

Bottom 5 2021
UT $315,160
ND $319,609
DC $347,582
OK $361,366
MS $347,884

Why some states rank higher

There are several factors at play when looking at retirement savings averages. It should be noted that only looking at the state-by-state breakdown may be unfair when you think of different tax burdens and cost-of-living metrics that vary between states.

In our analysis, we did not look specifically into these other factors as a leading cause. In our assumption, it likely makes sense why states such as Alaska are included in the top five list, especially since Alaska is a state known for favorable tax laws compared to states such as California.1

High cost of living could also be a factor for certain states not making the top five. That is likely the reason for Hawaii, District of Columbia and New York, to name a few, as cities in those states top the highest cost of living, according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2

According to this 2021 ranking, here are the top five states with the highest cost of living: Hawaii, California, New York, Oregon and Massachusetts.3

Rank State Total tax burden Property tax burden Individual income tax burden Total sales & excise tax burden
1 Alaska 5.16% 3.71% 0.00% 1.45%
2 Delaware 5.52% 1.85% 2.47% 1.20%
3 Tennessee 6.18% 1.92% 0.08% 4.18%
4 Wyoming 6.47% 3.81% 0.00% 2.66%
5 Florida 6.82% 2.79% 0.00% 4.03%
6 New Hampshire 6.85% 5.57% 0.08% 1.20%
7 Oklahoma 6.94% 1.65% 1.79% 3.50%
8 Montana 7.22% 3.51% 2.47% 1.24%
9 Alabama 7.36% 1.43% 1.88% 4.05%
10 South Carolina 7.48% 2.88% 1.98% 2.62%

According to a recent report from Statista, New Jersey is known for having the highest ratio of millionaire households per capita in the country (9.76%).4 So it’s no question it is included in the top five for highest average retirement balances. 

Alaska is one of the most tax-friendly states in the country, including no state income tax and no state sales tax. Ranked second on our list for highest average retirement balances, New Hampshire also carries several tax-friendly benefits. Residents don’t have to pay state income tax on Social Security benefits, pensions, distributions from retirement accounts, or income from a classified retirement job.

Rank State % of millionaire households (as of 11/2020)
1 New Jersey 9.76%
2 Maryland 9.72%
3 Connecticut 9.44%
4 Massachusetts 9.38%
5 Hawaii 9.20%
6 District of Columbia 9.12%
7 California 8.51%
8 New Hampshire 8.47%
9 Virginia 8.31%
10 Alaska 8.18%

How much do you need to retire comfortably in each state?

There’s no one answer to how much you will need to retire comfortably, no matter what state you live in. But there are a few common methods to help you determine what you might need to support your desired retirement lifestyle.

One thing to consider when determining how much you’ll need to retire is your state’s tax burden. There are several types of taxation that vary by state and that could really impact your ability to sustain your desired lifestyle. Some of these include property tax, income tax and inheritance tax. For example, if an expected inheritance is part of your retirement plan, you should know if your state has estate or inheritance taxes.

There are various methods of calculating how much you might need to spend or withdraw from your portfolio.

A common one is the “4% rule.” If you follow this rule, you withdraw 4% of your portfolio in the first year of retirement and then you annually withdraw that same dollar amount, adjusted for inflation, for the next 30 years. The idea is that if you follow this rule, you minimize your chances of running out of money in retirement.

While this rule is a good starting point, it has been hotly debated since it was established. Some argue that it is too conservative. Others argue that low-interest environments and longer life expectancies make it too risky. Meanwhile, your financial future hangs in the balance. If the rule is too conservative, then you’ve unnecessarily constrained your retirement lifestyle. If the rule is too risky, you could run out of money just when you need it most.

So a good way to get a personalized plan is to use a tool like Empower's free Retirement Planner, which allows you to input specific information that’s personal to you (like planned major spending events, when you want to take Social Security, what age you plan to retire, etc.) and will run thousands of simulations to give you a percent chance of success based on your current portfolio.

You can gaccess to the Retirement Planner by signing up for Empower’s free financial tools.

By generation breakdown

In addition to the average retirement balances for each state, you may be curious how your retirement balance compares with the average balance for each of the different generations. As you look at the table below, it is important to keep in mind that everyone’s financial goals and plans differ. Consider focusing on controlling the controllable and developing a plan that fits your long-term strategy.

By generation
Age group Total users Average
retirement balance
Median
retirement balance
Gen Z 121,489 $38,633 $12,016
Millennials 742,108 $178,741 $75,745
Gen X 375,718 $605,526 $303,663
Baby boomers 191,648 $1,076,208 $587,943
Other/no age data 304,134 $288,592 $64,828

Data from Empower Personal Dashboard™ as of 9/29/21.

Our take

We believe the keys to a successful retirement are visibility into your finances and having an objective person in your corner who can help you make decisions that are in your best financial interest.

That’s where Empower can help, pairing financial guidance with free financial tools to help you monitor your financial accounts and investments.

1 TurboTax, “States with the Lowest Taxes and the Highest Taxes,” June 2022.

2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Consumer Price Index,” July 2022.

3 World Population Review, “Cost of Living Index by State 2022,” July 2022.

4 Statista, “American states with highest ratio of millionaire households per capita in 2020,” June 2021.

About our data: To obtain this data, Empower analyzed the retirement accounts of dashboard users on an anonymized basis. Data presented represent the average (mean) balances of retirement accounts linked to the Empower Personal Dashboard™ broken out by state as of September 29, 2021. Location data was assumed based on a user’s IP address. Certain accounts, such as test accounts, major outliers, duplicative spousal accounts, and non-retirement accounts such as retail checking and savings accounts, were excluded from this analysis.

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The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. No part of this blog, nor the links contained therein is a solicitation or offer to sell securities. Compensation for freelance contributions not to exceed $1,250. Third-party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Empower cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third-party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement or approval by Empower of the contents on such third-party websites. 

Certain sections of this blog may contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions. Past performance is not a guarantee of future return, nor is it indicative of future performance. Investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate and you may lose money. 

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements. 

Advisory services are provided for a fee by Empower Advisory Group, LLC (“EAG”). EAG is a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and subsidiary of Empower Annuity Insurance Company of America. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training.