(Bloomberg Business) — Want to improve your chance of having a comfortable retirement? Just work longer to make up for your financial shortfall, we read. And a lot of people buy it.
Problem is, health and employers don’t always cooperate.
A new report shows that while workers have steadily increased the age at which they expect to retire beyond 65—from 11 percent in 1991 to 36 percent when the survey was taken in January and February—the actual median retirement age has been stuck at 62 since 1991.
That’s one of the reality checks in the 25th annual Retirement Confidence Survey by the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The report, which surveyed both workers and retirees, age 25 and up, isn’t all doom and gloom—the percentage of workers in retirement plans feeling “very confident” about retiring comfortably doubled from 2013 to 2015, to 28 percent. But just 12 percent of workers without retirement plans are “very confident” about retiring comfortably.
First, the good news. Those very confident workers with retirement plans aren’t more optimistic without reason. The big jump in confidence shocked one of the co-authors of the report, EBRI’s director of research, Jack VanDerhei, so he dug a little. He looked at the change in account balances in his database of 401(k) plans, which covers 27 million participants. In just the year ending Jan. 1, 2015, gains ranged from a low of 19 percent to a high of 47.9 percent.
But whether they’re in a retirement plan or not, many of those surveyed don’t seem to be making big increases to their retirement savings, VanDerhei said. On top of the market gains, workers in 401(k)retirement plans might benefit from having their contributions automatically increased each year. And while 69 percent of workers said they could save $25 more a week than they are now (46 percent said not eating out or getting takeout would do the trick), they then go on to contradict themselves, with 50 percent also saying that the pressure of daily costs means they can’t afford to save that extra money.