For 18 years, the Employee Benefit Research Institute has conducted its “Retirement Confidence Survey,” and this year saw some of the biggest swings in the history of the survey. The numbers seem to indicate a drop in confidence about a secure retirement future.

Money and health care dominated the respondents’ worries. Only 18 percent of workers indicated they were very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement. That’s down from 27 percent last year — the largest one-year drop in the survey’s history. Retirees showed a similar lack of confidence, with only 29 percent very confident about having enough money, down from 41 percent in 2007. The decrease in confidence was felt across age groups and income levels.

p>Other retiree concerns have to do with longevity and lifestyle. In a good news-bad news scenario, retirees think they are going to live a long time, but that means 39 percent think they will outlive their savings, up from 29 percent in 2007. Sixty-one percent think they could cut back on their lifestyle if the need arose, which is a decent number, but it’s down 9 percent from last year.

  • What’s the most pressing issue facing most Americans today? Here is how retirees responded:
  • Making ends meet or the cost of living — 19 percent.
  • Paying for health insurance or medical expenses — 25 percent.
  • Making mortgage payments or paying for housing — 10 percent.
  • Paying down debt or loans — 5 percent.
  • Fuel or energy costs — 9 percent.

Only 4 percent of retirees said saving and planning for retirement was the most pressing issue of the day. For more on the survey, visit www.ebri.org.