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Retirement Confidence Up but Still Dismal: Towers Watson

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The percentage of workers satisfied with their financial situation has increased 20 points since 2009 to 46%, according to a report released Wednesday by Towers Watson.

Retirement confidence is up too, from 18% in 2009. Still, only 23% of workers say they are confident they’ll have saved enough for the first 15 years of retirement.

Retirement could last 20 or 30 years for some workers, though. Unfortunately, only 8% said they were confident that their retirement savings could carry them 25 years into retirement.

“Employees might be on firmer financial footing now than they were five years ago, but many remain nervous about their finances and prospects for a secure retirement,” Shane Bartling, senior consultant at Towers Watson, said in a statement. “This is especially true for older workers who are likely better positioned to assess their retirement income than workers overall. The financial crisis hit workers age 50 and above particularly hard, with the stock market fall creating a huge dent in their retirement savings and their confidence levels.”

Consequently, 40% of workers say they plan on delaying retirement, up nine points since 2009. Most say they’ll work at least three years longer, but 44% said they plan on working at least five years. A third of respondents said they plan to work until after age 70 or that they won’t retire at all.

The survey found that the workers most likely to say they would delay retirement are disengaged with low health levels and high stress levels.

Workers are worried about their ability to pay for health care now, the survey found, much less in retirement. Just 40% of respondents said they could probably afford any medical expenses that come up in the next 12 months. The survey found 53% were worried that after they stopped working, they wouldn’t be able to afford health care.

“Employees are getting the message that their future health care costs should be an integral factor in their retirement planning. Escalating health care costs continue to claim larger shares of paychecks. And workers’ pessimistic outlook for Social Security and Medicare adds not only to their expected financial burden but also to the age at which they can retire,” David Speier, senior consultant at Towers Watson, said in a statement.

The survey found workers are making changes to address these issues like paying down debt and saving more. Over half of respondents said they review their retirement plan regularly and 56% say they are spending less and putting off big purchases. Retirement was named the biggest financial priority for all respondents 40 or older.

“Employers and employees are both facing increasing retirement pressures,” Bartling said. “Employers understand that they have a role to play in helping their workers plan and save for a secure retirement. Today’s employees are considerably more engaged, and are looking to their employers for more information about health care costs and the value of their retirement programs”.


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