After improving slightly in 2019, the outlook for financial security in retirement for workers aged 30 to 59 deteriorated in 2020, according to a research brief released Tuesday by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. The report found that 51% of U.S. households now are at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement. That number is up from 49% in 2019, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors wrote.

The National Retirement Risk Index, calculated by the center every three years, measures the share of American households that are at risk of not being able to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement. But last year, with the pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy, the CRR estimated what the NRRI would have been in 2020 and found it would have ticked upward to 51%. 

The authors cited a rise in housing and stock prices last year — an unusual occurrence during a recession — as reasons why the NRRI did not rise even higher.

“The bottom line is that half of today’s households will not have enough retirement income to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living,” the report stated. “This analysis clearly confirms that we need to fix our retirement system so that employer plan coverage is universal. Only with continuous coverage will workers be able to accumulate adequate resources to maintain their standard of living in retirement.”