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The Rich Have You Beat in Retirement, Too

The best-paid U.S. workers are on track for 11 times more money than the lowest-paid.
Senior couple hugging by modern pool overlooking ocean
Photographer: Tom Merton/Caiaimage via Getty Images

The U.S. retirement landscape is starting to look like a Charles Dickens novel.

Since voluntary savings plans led by 401(k)s have largely replaced traditional pensions, it’s probably no surprise that this is the best of times for many highly paid workers. Equally unsurprising is that this is the worst of times for almost everyone else, especially the 42 percent (PDF) of workers who don’t have access to a work-sponsored plan. The stunner is just how much the luckiest among us will outpace the unluckiest on retirement day: eleven times as much.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office describes this tale of two Americas. It calculates the effect that unequal pay and limited access to retirement plans will have on today's workers decades from now. It also offers a few suggestions for how Americans might boost their retirement income.