If you’re wondering how the economy and the markets are influencing workers’ and retirees’ outlook, check out the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2009 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS). The survey was conducted in January 2009 through 20-minute telephone interviews with 1,257 individuals (1,001 workers and 256 retirees) age 25 and older in the United States. The survey found:
Record-low confidence levels
Workers who say they are very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement this year hit the lowest level in 2009 (13 percent) since the Retirement Confidence Survey started asking the question in 1993, continuing a two-year decline. Retirees also posted a new low in confidence about having a financially secure retirement, with only 20 percent now saying they are very confident (down from 41 percent in 2007).
The economy, inflation, and cost of living are the big concerns
Workers overall who have lost confidence over the past year about affording a comfortable retirement most often cite the recent economic uncertainty, inflation, and the cost of living as primary factors. In addition, certain negative experiences, such as job loss or a pay cut, loss of retirement savings, or an increase in debt, almost always contribute to loss of confidence among those who experience them.
Retirement expectations delayed
Workers apparently expect to work longer because of the economic downturn: 28 percent of workers in the 2009 RCS say the age at which they expect to retire has changed in the past year. Of those, the vast majority (89 percent) say that they have postponed retirement with the intention of increasing their financial security. Nevertheless, the median (mid-point) worker expects to retire at age 65, with 21 percent planning to push on into their 70s. The median retiree actually retired at age 62, and 47 percent of retirees say they retired sooner than planned.