NU Online News Service, April 14, 2003, 8:51 p.m. EDT – U.S. workers who already save for retirement are a little more likely this year to say that they could save more, but workers who are not yet saving are far less confident about their ability to start saving, according to the results of the latest Retirement Confidence Survey.

Mathew Greenwald & Associates Inc., Washington, sponsored the survey together with the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, and the American Savings Education Council, Washington.

The researchers interviewed 1,000 U.S. workers and retirees for the survey in January. All of the participants were over age 25.

Seventy-one percent of the 782 participants who were still working said they had already started saving for retirement, and 73% of those said it was reasonably possible for them to save $20 per week more than they have been saving for retirement, up from 70% in 2002.

But 29% of the workers said they had not yet started saving for retirement. Only 54% of those workers believed they could save $20 more per week, down from 62% last year.

Workers were more confident than the authors of the survey report expected, given the weakness of the economy and investment markets, but the researchers did find some signs of a weakening in confidence.

The percentage of workers saying they were very confident in having enough money to take care of basic expenses in retirement dropped to 33%, from 38%, and the percentage of workers not at all confident of having enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years increased to 16%, from 10%.

The survey results also suggest that workers need more help with retirement planning.

Only 37% of workers said they had calculated how much money they might need to have saved by the time they retire. That’s up from 32% in 2002, but many who said they had done a calculation seem to have used less-than-reliable methods or obtained dubious results, according to the authors of the survey report.