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Optimism Drives Up Retirement Savings: The Hartford

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Americans expect their personal finances to improve in the next year, and consequently are increasing their retirement savings, The Hartford announced Monday.

Participation in defined-contribution plans increased to 76% in 2011, especially among boomers, Gen Xers and men.

Seventy-nine percent of boomers and 77% of Gen X workers are participating in their employers’ retirement plans. Younger workers, however, dropped out of plans in 2011. Participation fell by 2% among workers between ages 19 and 31.

While 81% of men overall participate in a plan, participation among women was flat in 2011 at 70%. In 2010, women showed greater improvement than men.

“Americans are known for their optimism and that is being reflected in their increasing participation in retirement plans, even as the economy continues to struggle,” Thomas Foster Jr., vice president for The Hartford’s Retirement Plans Group, said in a statement.

Over one-third of respondents reported feeling confident that their lives would improve over the next 12 months. More than half said reducing debt and increasing savings were part of their financial goals, and 42% said securing their financial future was their primary goal.

“More people say they are saving for retirement and focusing on reaching their retirement savings goals. It’s a promising time for employers and financial advisors to promote the importance of retirement savings,” Foster said. “As Americans feel better about their personal finances, they are looking to the future, particularly as it relates to planning for retirement.”