Surveys Show

Consumer Optimism

On Retirement

Two new surveys reveal how Americans feel about their current and future financial situation.

According to the latest Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates, 24% of workers are very confident they will have enough money set aside for a comfortable retirement, and 44% are somewhat confident theyll have enough.

The survey found, however, that only about 68% actually have set aside some money for retirement, and only 58% are doing so currently.

Of the non-savers, almost half are confident about having enough money in retirement.

“America appears to be a nation of optimists when it comes to retirement, but for some people the retirement dream may turn into a nightmare,” warns Dallas Salisbury, president of EBRI, in Washington.

The survey found that 45% of all workers report total household assets, excluding the value of their home, of less than $25,000.

But retirement education can lead to significant improvements in consumers savings habits, EBRI says. More than 40% of workers who tried to calculate how much they need to save for retirement improved their planning as a result, and almost 30% who received retirement education at work changed their retirement planning.

Even with all the computer technology and Internet information now available, most who receive retirement education through their employer say they found personalized, one-on-one and print communication most helpful, EBRI says.

According to Principal Financial Groups latest Financial Well Being Index, conducted by Harris Interactive, 44% of U.S. workers feel insecure about their current financial well-being, although nearly half say they are optimistic about their financial outlook.

The survey also found that of those participants with retirement savings, 73% have not made any changes in the past year in how those savings are invested, while 19% moved to more stable investments and 8% to more volatile investments.

The survey found that 90% of U.S. employers offered health insurance, down from 94% in 2002. Satisfaction scores for health insurance were down 12% from 2002 to 35%, Principal found.

Still, 92% rated health insurance as their most important benefit, while 74% rated defined contribution retirement plans as the second-most important benefit.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 9, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.