Does The Savings Rate Include Retirement Savings?

I’ve always been curious on what the personal savings rate actually includes.

The personal savings rate has been a newsmaker for the last couple of years.  Before the recession, we were actually saving in the negative territory, with the difference largely fueled by taking loans against (phantom) home equity.

Now, we’ve returned to a positive savings rate, which is good except for when economists complain that spending is necessary to fuel the economy (I’ll save that paradox for another day).

When I look at what our savings rate is, the short answer is:

I have no clue.

Usually answers to questions like that are pretty straightforward if you know how to search Google. When I did a Google search, some answers said yes, some said no, some said it all depends.

If our 401(k) contributions are to be counted, we are well above double digit savings rate.  If not, then we’re well below that.  I’m personally comfortable with this, but as to whether the government statistics would say so, who knows?

Does anybody have a definitive answer after wading through all the rhetoric on whether retirement savings are considered part of the savings rate?  Does it even matter?

6 thoughts on “Does The Savings Rate Include Retirement Savings?”

  1. I have no idea what the official answer is, but it seems like it should definitely include retirement savings. Retirement savings are just general savings ear marked for a specific purpose and still provide you with financial security and boost your net worth.

  2. I don't think that it does include retirement savings because those are made up of a lot of different stocks and funds

  3. Working on an article right now about this…and your site came up in Google!

    I believe it does include retirement savings, but only the ones made in the current payment period. For example, if you have savings of $5,000 and decide to put $2,000 into your IRA, this is not included because these savings were realized in another pay term. But if you have $400 of your paycheck this month go into your IRA, that is included.

    Here's a good link I found from someone who emailed them directly for answers:

  4. This didn’t help me – but here’s a semi-official answer!

    Definition of ‘National Savings Rate’
    An estimate from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the amount of income left over after subtracting consumption costs and expenditures. The National Savings Rate, though it is referred to as a “savings rate,” does not actually measure the amount of money Americans are saving or investing for the long-term. National savings include savings left over from personal, business and government.
    Investopedia Says
    Investopedia explains ‘National Savings Rate’
    The National Savings Rate is confusing at first glance, due to the fact that it is often substantially less than what the typical American reports contributing to their employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs. This difference is because the national savings rate includes government savings, and they are usually reporting deficits which lowers the national savings rate.

    Read more:

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