Which state’s retirees maintain living standards most?

Retired residents of the District of Columbia and Nevada appear to be living at standards closer to their pre-retirement days than retirees in other states – while those in Massachusetts and North Dakota are coming up the shortest.

That’s according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics which found that retirees in the District of Columbia earn 73.8 percent of their preretirement income, and Nevada retirees earn 70.8 percent.

In Massachusetts, on the other hand, retired residents live on a median 48.7 percent of their pre-retirement income ($82,112 pre-retirement to $40,020 in retirement), the biggest percentage drop of any state in the country.

To put that in perspective, Massachusetts workers earned the fourth highest of any state in the country pre-retirement, but retired residents of the top three had higher retirement percentages: Maryland (56.2 percent, $88,101 to $49,494), New Jersey (52.6 percent, $85,788 to $45,092) and Connecticut (52.2 percent, $84,757 to $44,240).

North Dakota retirees live on a median 49 percent of their pre-retirement earnings – $72,043 pre-retirement to $35,931 in retirement.

Most retirees will need 70 percent of the income they made while they were working in retirement, and low income workers typically need more – often at least 90 percent, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The national average percentage of their pre-retirement income that retirees earn is 59 percent. That’s a median income of $37,847 in retirement compared to $63,474 while they were working.

Only retirees in District of Columbia and Nevada have more than 70 percent of their pre-retirement income to spend, the study showed. But retired residents of 10 other states have retirement income percentages approaching 70 percent: Hawaii (69.1 percent), Arizona (68.1), Mississippi (68.0) Florida (67.8), New Mexico (67.8), South Carolina (67.5), Arkansas (66.9), Tennessee (66.1), Alaska (65.7) and Kentucky (65.3).

The retirees who earn the most dollarwise are Hawaiians, with a median retirement income of $55,560. Maryland is second at $49,494. At the other end of the spectrum is Mississippi at a median $29,511, though they live on 68 percent of their pre-retirement income of $43,354.

It’s not surprising that the states that attract most retirees have higher retirement income percentages. According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, the divide between what the rich and the poor can expect in retirement continues to widen.

Of people age 55 to 64, households earning $138,000 or more a year have a median $452,000 in retirement savings. Those households with an income of less than $39,000 a year have a median retirement savings of less than $13,000 saved.

Perhaps the most unsettling statistic of all is that more than 40 percent of Americans in the 50 to 59 age group are not currently saving at all for retirement, according to a recent Wells Fargo study. Nearly half of the respondents over age 50 say they won’t have enough money to survive in retirement.