The number of 401(k) and IRA millionaires plummeted last year as retirement savings take a hit

March 3, 2023, 5:47 PM UTC
Financial advisor helping a senior couple
The share of investors with at least $1 million in their 401(k)s and IRAs shrunk by nearly 30% in 2022 compared to 2021.
Marko Geber—Getty Images

The market was so bad last year that the share of investors with at least $1 million in their 401(k)s and IRAs shrunk by nearly 30% compared to 2021, according to data provided by Fidelity Investments.

Of the over 35 million retirement accounts Fidelity manages, there were 299,000 401(k) millionaires and around 280,300 IRA millionaires in the fourth quarter of 2022. That’s compared to 442,000 and 376,000, respectively, at the same time in 2021. It’s also down from the end of 2020, when Fidelity reported 334,000 401(k) millionaires and 288,300 IRA holders with seven-figure accounts.

It’s possible that some people hold multiple accounts at Fidelity, so the actual number of those with at least $1 million invested for retirement might be higher. But overall, the decline is not necessarily surprising, given the S&P 500 was down around 20% last year. At the same time, many households are struggling with an ever-increasing cost of living, dipping into savings to pay their monthly bills.

While the number of million-dollar-funds is falling, it’s also far from the norm. The average IRA balance was $104,000 at the end of 2022—a 20% drop from 2021—while the average 401(k) balance was $103,900. A separate report from Vanguard also found that the average 401(k) balance fell by about a fifth in 2022.

One positive development? Gen Z is already prioritizing saving for retirement. The average account balance for these young workers increased by 14% from the end of 2021. Their balances are still small, given their age, but the shaky stock market didn’t deter them from starting to invest young.

Though all savers are facing tough market conditions, that doesn’t seem to be deterring them from investing in their retirement accounts. More than one-third actually increased their contribution rate last year, with the average 401(k) account holder boosting theirs by 2.6%.

A $1 million retirement fund has long been a goal for savers. But some financial advisors now say some people should save well above $1 million for a comfortable retirement, depending on where they live, their lifestyle, and their other goals.

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