A comfortable retirement is still something many Americans fear they’ll have to do without, according to EBRI’s 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey. The research, released Tuesday, found that 21% of workers are “not too confident” they will have enough money to retire and 28% say they’re “not at all confident.”
EBRI noted that the percentage of people who are not at all confident in their ability to retire is at the highest level it’s been in the 23 years the organization has been conducting the survey.
Confidence levels have remained steadily low since the 2011 survey, despite an improved economy over all. The survey suggested that may be because respondents are just catching on to how far from their goals they really are.
Jack VanDerhei, EBRI research director and co-author of the report, also noted that savings targets are likely just guesses rather than the result of careful analysis. “Only 46% report they and/or their spouse have tried to calculate how much money they will need to have saved by the time they retire so that they can live comfortably in retirement,” he said in a statement.
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“The survey provides insight on the reason behind crucial decisions Americans aren’t making,” Matt Greenwald, president of Mathew Greenwald & Associates, which conducted the survey for EBRI, said during a media briefing on the survey. “Savings rates of workers are disturbingly low, and many are not saving at all. As a result, the accumulated savings are quite low. Even when we look at workers 45 and over, just under half, 47%, have less than $25,000. Clearly many are way behind in their preparation for retirement.”
While some economic indicators have improved, it hasn’t necessarily impacted workers in a substantial way. The survey found respondents are still struggling with short-term financial issues like job uncertainty and debt. About 60% of workers and 39% of retirees say they have a problem with their level of debt, while a quarter of workers and 15% of retirees say their debt has increased over the last five years.
Eighty-two percent of workers eligible to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan do so, the report found, and an additional 8% have some savings in a workplace plan but aren’t currently contributing to it.
When asked why they aren’t saving, Greenwald said, “the answer they give is quite clear: cost of living and day-to-day expenses.”
Indeed, among the issues taking precedence over saving are simply getting by day to day, paying for health insurance or medical care, taxes and mortgage payments. In the face of those immediate concerns, saving for retirement was rated as the most pressing financial concern facing Americans by just 2% of workers and 4% of retirees.