WASHINGTON–Employment-based benefits make a difference in the ability of employers to attract and keep workers, according to a new survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

The findings were released as part of a presentation by Dallas Salisbury, EBRI president and CEO, during a briefing here for life insurance industry officials. The briefing, sponsored by the Financial Services Roundtable, focused on what the industry is doing to publicize workplace benefits and insurance.

At the briefing, Marvin Feldman, president and CEO of the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, presented statistics showing individual life policies are playing a declining role in the retirement-benefits market.

He said 68 million adult Americans have no life insurance, and only 40% of them have individual life insurance policies. He said 7 million fewer life insurance policies are being sold every year compared to 20 years ago. Yet 93% of Americans say life insurance is something they need, he said.

Salisbury warned that as the economy improves, American employers “will have to do a better job of providing benefits to employees if they hope to retain them in a growing job market.”

Salisbury also noted that 62% of Americans are not confident that they will receive Social Security benefits when they retire. This could present additional growth opportunities for providers of life insurance, disability and other retirement products, he suggested.

EBRI’s survey found 37% of those surveyed felt confident that they will receive Social Security when they retire, with the number rising only among workers over 55.

He said there is “strikingly little variation by income in this pessimistic view of Social Security’s future, he said.

The survey found 48% of Americans rated Social Security as a very important benefit, rising to 64% among those making less than $35,000, while 44% rated Medicare a very important benefit, rising to 55% among those making less than $35,000.

Among other findings, 85% rated health insurance as an important workplace benefit, and 69% rated retirement savings as an important benefit.

And 48% rated life insurance as an important benefit, rising to 67% among workers making less than $35,000.

Other benefits rated highly were long term disability, rated very important by 39%; short-term disability (35%); long term care insurance (31%); supplemental life insurance (21%); and annuities (19%).

Other survey findings:

–94% of workers said that their employer offers benefits, and 79% were familiar with all of the insurance and retirement benefits they were offered.

–52% felt confident that the benefits offered to them at work would protect their financial well-being

–70% get health insurance at work, and 84% of those offered it take it.

–55% are offered retirement savings plans, of whom 80% sign up for this benefit.

–70% have life insurance through work, with 86% of those offered it taking it.