Baby Boomers Must Work About 2 Extra Years to Recoup Market Losses

Workers with less time on the job will more easily recuperate

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Employees with the fewest years on the job are the least affected by stock market drops and have the most time to recuperate. But it is going to take a considerable amount of additional time in the workforce for older employees to recoup losses collectively totaling $2.0 trillion in 401(k)s and IRAs, $1.9 trillion in traditional defined benefit plans, and $3.6 trillion in non-pension assets.

Jack VanDerhei, research director for the Employee Benefit Research Institute, told the Washington Post that employees who have spent between 20 and 29 years on the job will have to spend 1 year and 9 months working to recoup market losses. If workers with this amount of job tenure move their money out of stocks and into safer investments like money market funds it will take the typical worker 2 years and 1 month to neutralize the market drop.

Here’s a look at how long you may have to work simply to recover recent market losses.

Median number of years an employee must work
to return portfolio to where it was a year ago

Job Tenure No investment changes* Move to more conservative investments**
Less than 5 years    4 days 1 week
5-9 years 10.2 months 11.4 months
10-19 years 1 year, 6 months 1 year, 8.5 months
20-29 years 1 year, 9 months 2 years, 1 month

*a mixture of stocks and bonds based on real records of employee 401(k)s

**no equity in the investment mix

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute calculations, 2008.