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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

EBRI: Americans Think Tomorrow Will Look Like Today

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Current U.S. workers seem to think they will enjoy roughly the same lifestyle as current retirees.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, has published data supporting that conclusion in a summary of results from the 2007 Retirement Confidence Survey. The survey results are based on telephone interviews of 1,001 workers ages 25 and older, and 251 retirees.

Only 31% of the workers said they expect Social Security to continue to provide benefits of at least equal value to benefits received by retirees today, and only 36% of workers said they expect Medicare benefits to hold their value.

Only 29% of all workers, and only 49% of workers ages 55 and older, said they have $100,000 or more in retirement savings and investments.

But 58% of workers said they expect to be well-off or comfortable during the first 5 years of retirement.

Meanwhile, about 58% of the retirees interviewed said they were comfortable or well-off during the first 5 years of retirement.

The percentage of workers who said they are somewhat or very confident about their ability to handle basic expenses, medical expenses and long term care expenses in retirement is about the same as it was 10 years ago.

Daniel Houston, executive vice president at Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, one of the companies that funded the survey, says one thing that strikes him about the survey is that the percentage of current workers who expect to receive employer-paid health benefits seems to be substantially higher than the percentage of workers at employers that offer retiree health benefits.

“There are workers who still feel as if they’re going to receive some kind of defined benefit pension plan from their employers that doesn’t exist,” Houston says.

Other survey findings:

- Savings multiples: This year, Retirement Confidence Survey researchers asked workers to estimate the amount of retirement savings they need as a multiple of current earnings.

About 30% of the participants suggested a multiple of 5 times current earnings or less, and only 43% suggested a multiple of 10 times current earnings or higher.

- Print is having problems: Workers who are saving for retirement said advice from financial professionals is the most helpful kind of retirement savings education tool, with about 64% reporting getting such advice and 40% describing it as the most helpful retirement education tool. Those figures are about the same as they were in 2006.

The percentage of savers who said they have used print newspapers or magazines dropped to 49%, from 64%, and the percentage who described print newspapers and magazines as the most helpful tools dropped to 4%, from 8%.

Use of the Internet increased to 52%, from 46%, but the percentage of workers who cited the Internet as the most helpful tool increased only modestly, to 6%, from 5%.

- Many workers are confused by the word “annuity.” Only 39% of workers said they were somewhat or very likely to buy an annuity, but 50% said they were somewhat or very likely to buy a “financial product” or “retirement plan option” that does exactly what an annuity does.


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