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EBRI: Just One in Seven Workers Evince Confidence about Retirement Nest Egg

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Only one in seven workers say they are very confident they have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, a percentage that has remained stubbornly low since the end of the recession in 2009, a new report reveals.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute, Philadelphia, and Mathew Greenwald and Associates, Washington, D.C., published this finding in EBRI’s 22nd annual Retirement Confidence Survey.

Fourteen percent of respondents in the 2012 survey say they are “very confident” they have enough money for a comfortable retirement. This compares with 13% in 2011, 16% in 2010 and 13% in 2009.

This year, 38% report they are “somewhat confident,” while 24% are “not too confident” and 23% are “not at all confident.” These figures also have changed little since the end of the 2007-2009 recession.

The survey further reveals that only a minority of workers are highly confident that they will have enough money in retirement to cover basic expenses (26%), medical expenses (13%) and long-term care costs (9%).

Contributing to the lack of confidence for these workers is the level of personal debt. Forty-five percent of workers with a “major debt problem,” the report discloses, are “not at all confident” they will have enough money to last through retirement. Additionally, 33% of workers with a big debt problem are “not too confident” about their retirement preparedness. Just 18% and 4% of those with major debt loads are, respectively, “somewhat confident and “very confident.”

The survey notes also that the lack of confidence among American workers has not translated to improved preparations for retirement. The percentage of workers who report they are saving for retirement increased to 65% in 2009, but this percentage has since declined and now stands at 58%.

Not surprisingly, the largest percentage of workers (93%) who are saving for retirement are in the highest income bracket: those with household incomes exceeding $75,000. This contrasts with 74% of workers with household incomes between $35,000 and $75,000 and just 35% of workers with household incomes below $35,000, the survey finds.

Although most retirees (91%) report that Social Security provides a source of income for their and their spouse’s retirement (69% say it is a major source of income), workers and their spouses continue to expect to piece together their retirement income from a wide variety of sources. Seventy-nine percent expect employment to provide them with a source of income in retirement, 565 expect to receive income from an employer-sponsored traditional pension or cash balance plan, and 45% expect to receive income from a payout annuity, the survey reveals.

The complete survey results can be found here.