Retirement confidence dipped slightly in 2015, but workers are still more confident than they were during the height of the Great Recession. Nearly 60% of workers say they are somewhat or very confident they will be able to retire comfortably and 49% say they are saving enough for retirement, which is a slight drop from 2014.
“American workers are still recovering from what is commonly referred to as the Great Recession. Most are focused on saving for retirement yet confidence is still lacking among many. As a natural outcome, many expect to continue working in retirement,” says Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
Nearly one-quarter of workers say they haven’t quite recovered from the Great Recession, with 15% saying they have not yet begun to recover and 8% saying they may never recover, according to the 16th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey.
The good news is that 37% of workers who responded to the survey said they had fully recovered or not impacted at all by the Great Recession, an increase from last year.
The bulk of today’s workers are concerned about retirement, saying that their generation will have a harder time achieving financial security compared to their parents’ generation, according to the survey. More than three-quarters are worried Social Security won’t be there for them when they are ready to retire.
Workers fear outliving their savings in retirement and are worried about long-term care and a reduction in Social Security benefits by the time they retire. Other retirement fears include not being able to meet the financial needs of their family, cognitive decline and a lack of adequate or affordable health care, the study found.
Transamerica said that the percentage of workers who say that saving for retirement is their top priority increased from 2011 to 2014 and remained steady in 2015. Nearly one-third of respondents said that saving for retirement is their top priority. Other priorities are covering basic living expenses and paying off debt or student loans.
Forty-nine percent of workers expect to self-fund their retirement using their 401(k) plan, IRA or other savings and investments. Twenty-six percent plan to rely solely on Social Security as their primary source of income in retirement. Thirteen percent say they will just keep working in retirement to help them pay expenses.
“With regard to saving and planning for retirement, there’s no such thing as an ‘average’ American. Each demographic segment faces its own unique opportunities and challenges. Nevertheless, we live in a time in which all workers face retirement-related risks and the need to take greater personal control of their long-term financial security,” says Collinson.
Forty-eight percent of Millennials and 40% of Generation X expect to fund their retirement through a defined contribution plan or IRA, while 35% of baby boomers are still relying solely on Social Security.
The survey also polled people on their expected standard of living in retirement and where they were saving for retirement. Seventy-six percent of workers said they are saving for retirement through an employer-sponsored retirement plan, which is a drop from 80% in 2011. The median age at which workers started saving for retirement was 27.
The number of workers who have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan dropped slightly from 2014 to 2012. That number is significantly lower than the number that was offered plans in 2012, Transamerica said. Only 66% of workers had access in 2015, compared to 76% in 2012.
Participation rates are high for workers who have access to a plan, the study found, increasing slightly from 2011, and the amount people are saving in their plan annually also increased slightly from 6% of annual pay in 2011 to 8% of annual pay in 2015.
The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies is a division of Transamerica Institute, a nonprofit, private foundation. Its goal is to educate the public about emerging retirement trends in the United States.
Paula Aven Gladych is a freelance writer based in Denver.
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