Americans need to resume saving and planning if they want to retire comfortably.

According to a survey released Tuesday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C., Americans’ confidence in their ability to retire appears to be stabilizing. EBRI’s retirement confidence survey measured record-low drops in public confidence in 2008 and 2009.

“Americans are starting to feel more optimistic about their financial futures and now is the time to back that up with action,” said Daniel J. Houston, president of retirement, insurance and financial services at Principal Financial Group, which underwrote the annual survey. “Get started by figuring out how much may be needed for retirement and create a plan to get there. Keep spending in check and make savings a priority.”

But preparation for retirement appears to be getting worse. According to EBRI, a growing percentage of employees report that they virtually no savings and investments. More than half of employees said that they have less than $25,000 in total savings and investments, excluding their homes.

According to EBRI, 46% of employees reported that they or their spouse have tired to calculate how much money they will need to save for retirement. More people expect to work after the age of 65 – up to 33% in 2010 from 11% in 1991.

“Working longer is one way to help fund retirement but the research shows that a significant number of workers end up having to quit sooner than planned because of health issues or layoffs,” said Houston. “All the more reason for workers to give themselves more options by saving effectively in the first place.”

EBRI’s 20th annual retirement confidence survey is the longest running such survey in the United States.