One of the many parts of the financial sector that the crisis exposed as desperately in need of reform was the 401(k) industry. In 2008 alone, the securities industry lost over $2 trillion in workers’ hard-earned 401(k) and IRA savings. This loss was problematic enough for the millions of American families who watched their balances plunge in horror, but the number that really drives home the need for reform is the more than $120 billion that the industry took home in compensation and commissions the same year it lost $2 trillion in savers’ wealth.
The recession officially ended nearly two and a half years ago, in June 2009, but for the generation of young adults who’ve been trying to take their first steps into adulthood, its effects could shape the future for decades to come.
Dave Simpson began working for the state of Oregon right out of college. He knew that he'd make less than his friends who took jobs in the private sector, but for Dave, public service and a secure pension more than outweighed the lower pay. He spent his entire career with the state, working a variety of jobs, tackling everything from state parks to computer networks. Dave's story mirrors those of the vast majority of public employees: Serve your state, and earn a comfortable, but not lavish, retirement--according to the National Institute on Retirement Security, public-employee pensions average a modest $20,867 per year.