The share of baby boomers who plan to work until 70 or older has shot up in the past two years, according to a study by the Insured Retirement Institute.
While boomers' overall retirement confidence level is continuing to fall, according to the study, released Monday, boomers reported improvements in several key financial areas.
IRI first began tracking boomer retirement expectations back in 2011. Then, 44% of boomers said they were very confident about their retirement prospects. Now that level has slipped to 35%.
Boomers are also less confident that they’ll have enough saved to live on — 37% said they were confident in 2011 versus 33% this year — and they’re much more likely to say they will work at least until age 70. In 2011, just 17% of boomers said they’d work so long; today it’s 28%.
Some of their behaviors could get them into trouble, too. More than 20% of boomers said they had stopped contributing to their retirement plan, and 10% said they’ve made early withdrawals from the plan.
However, IRI said that in some ways, boomers’ confidence levels are improving.
The report found that in spite of being more dissatisfied with the economy in general, 42% of boomers expect their own financial situation to improve in the next five years, up from 33% of boomers last year. However, they expect only a slight improvement, and the same percentage expect their situation to remain about the same.
More than a third of respondents in 2011 said they didn’t know when they would retire; that has fallen to 17%.
“One of the most striking developments since we began this research series is the decline in boomers who did not know when they would retire,” IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford said in a statement. “That number has been cut in half. While the research shows that they are deciding to retire later in life, the important thing is that they are grappling with important aspects of retirement planning and beginning to develop a clearer picture of where they are and where they intend to be.”
For example, boomers in 2014 were more likely to have calculated how much they need to save for retirement than in 2011. Of those, more than three-quarters included their health care needs in their estimation.
The survey found 80% of boomers had some retirement savings, and more than half said they had at least $250,000. The report didn’t ask what kind of accounts those savings were held in, but 36% of respondents said their pension plan would be a major source of retirement income and 34% said their 401(k) plan would be a major source. Social Security was the most important source of income for respondents; 43% said it would be a major source and 46% said it would be a minor source.
More than half of respondents said personal savings will be only a minor source of retirement income.
And even though 28% of boomers said they would work until at least age 70, just 15% said employment during retirement would be a major source of income.