While many Americans are struggling with retirement planning, early pre-retirees are particularly challenged.

Back in February, OneAmerica Financial Partners reported that boomers ages 40 to 50 were more likely than people in other age brackets to say they were doubtful or not confident in their ability to retire and maintain their current lifestyle.

That finding is echoed in a new “BlackRock Investor Pulse Survey,” which discloses that 53 percent of Americans are confident that they will achieve the retirement income they need. But just 45 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are similarly confident, the lowest level of all the age groups represented in the study.

While many Americans across the board are struggling with the realities of retirement planning, “early pre-retirees” — those from 45 to 54 years old — are particularly challenged. The survey finds people both younger and older than the 45- to 54-year-olds display consistently more positive financial attitudes and behaviors. 

For example, early pre-retirees allocate the most to bills and debt of almost any age group, an average of 53 percent of monthly take-home pay on such costs, compared with the overall U.S. average of 49 percent (65- to 74-year-olds also allocate 53 percent). Accordingly, early pre-retirees also report the least amount of monthly take-home pay left over to spend (22 percent, vs. the overall U.S. average of 24 percent). They also reported saving, on average, a mere 15 percent, the lowest saving rate of any age group, except for 65- to 74-year-olds (13 percent). 

These Americans are more likely than any others, older or younger, to feel negatively about their financial future (53 percent).  They are also most likely to feel “not at all in control” of their financial future and “not at all confident” about making the right savings and investment decisions. 

About eight of 10 early pre-retirees surveyed say they are not currently earning or drawing an income on their investments (vs. 67 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds and 61 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds). They are most likely, too, to say they do not know what returns are offered by income-generating investments (36 percent) and what investments actually offer income (50 percent). 

While only 41 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds feel positively about their financial future, 47 percent of “immediate pre-retirees” (age 55 to 64) and 54 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds have a positive outlook.

Similarly, immediate pre-retirees are more confident than early pre-retirees about achieving financial priorities such as wealth preservation (74 percent vs. 62 percent) and funding a comfortable retirement (63 percent vs. 54 percent).