U.S. workers are upbeat about defined contribution plans — at least as far as their usefulness — but still don’t know how much to save for retirement

That’s the word from a survey from the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, which found that, while 80 percent of workers think 401(k)-type plans are an effective way to save for retirement, half are still ignorant of how much they’ll need to save. 

This is despite efforts to educate participants on how much is necessary, and how important it is to start saving early and consistently. 

That doesn’t mean people aren’t trying. An American Benefits Council survey indicates that almost 88 percent of workers eligible for a DC plan have something saved in a plan, while earlier LIMRA research shows that 64 percent make retirement savings a top priority. 

At least some of these savers also are optimistic about their prospects. Among those who participate in a DC plan, 44 percent say they’re confident that they can live the retirement lifestyle they want — but, of course, that leaves lots of room for improvement. Among those who aren’t participating in a DC plan, only 32 percent think that way.

Another interesting result of the survey is the number of people who believe that an employer has at least some responsibility to help employees save for retirement, with 44 percent in favor and 28 percent undecided.

Participants in DC plans are more likely to say they have a personal responsibility to save for retirement (84 percent) than workers overall (78 percent). And 77 percent believe that everyone should have access to a retirement savings plan at work. 

SRI suggested that the retirement industry needs to do more to leverage technology to give participants a better idea of how their current savings rates and account balances translate into future retirement income. 

“This change in focus,” SRI said in a statement, “could help participants better understand the future impact of present-day saving.”