NU Online News Service, Dec. 27, 2004, 5:32 p.m. EST

U.S. workers worry about saving for retirement, but many are struggling just to meet short-term needs.[@@]

Researchers at MetLife Inc., New York, have published results supporting that conclusion in a report on the company’s latest employee benefits trend study.

Outside researchers polled 1,542 voting-age consumers; 903 full-time employees, age 21 and older, at companies with at least 2 employees; and 1,528 benefits and human resources executives at companies with at least 2 employees.

The researchers found that 49% of the employees surveyed are worried about outliving retirement savings and that 43% would like their employers to give them access to financial planners.

But the researchers also found that 42% of the survey participants said they are living paycheck to paycheck, 63% worry about having enough money to make ends meet and 71% worry about having enough money to pay bills during periods of income loss.

Only 26% of the employees said they viewed disability insurance as one of the most valuable employee benefits, while 64% listed paid vacation time as one of the top employee benefits.

Although 32% of the employees described retirement savings plans as one of the most valuable employees benefits, only 24% described life insurance as being very valuable and only 8% said long term care insurance was very valuable.

Other survey results:

- Full-time employees who were satisfied with their benefits were about 3 times as likely to be satisfied with their jobs as are employees who are not satisfied with their benefits.

- More than 34% of full-time employees said they would like to see their employers offer a wider array of employee-paid benefits.