Seven of 10 employed individuals have given up on the idea of retirement, according to the 2010 EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey.

That’s up from 63% in 2008, at the nadir of the market’s plunge.

However, this pessimism may be unfounded: Just 23% of people at or above retirement age continue to work, the survey says. Many of these people work by choice—92% of retired respondents who continue to work say they do so to stay active and 86% say they enjoy working.

“Those currently working are more skeptical than those actually in retirement” about whether they have enough to live on, said Craig Copeland, senior research associate at the Employee Benefits Research Institute in Washington, D.C. “It’s hard to say for certain whether that fear is justified. Certainly, changes to Social Security or Medicare would make it much more difficult.”

To be sure, hardly any retiree who chooses to work does so for purely nonfinancial reasons—72% of respondents work for extra spending money, 62% do so to make up for declining retirement assets, 59% are making ends meet and 40% work in order to keep health benefits.

Of the 77% of retirees now out of the workforce, few anticipate rejoining it. Just 4% of retirees say it’s very likely they’ll have to find a paying job and 6% say it’s only somewhat likely.


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