EBRI released its 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey on Tuesday, finding once again that Americans who have a retirement plan are more likely to be confident about their retirement outcomes.
Their confidence is well-earned. Workers in a retirement plan are 10 times as likely to be saving for retirement as those who don’t have a retirement plan of some kind.
However, the percentage of workers who say they are confident about retirement has fallen, and workers reported high levels of stress as a result. Many of those workers said they were less productive at work, putting the blame squarely on their financial concerns. About half said various employer-sponsored financial programs could help them be more productive.
The survey was conducted with Greenwald & Associates online in January among more than 1,000 workers and nearly 600 retirees.
The survey asked workers how confident they were that they and their spouse could live comfortably through retirement. After trending up for several years, fewer workers reported some level of confidence, with a commensurate uptick in the percentage of workers who said they were not very or not at all confident about their prospects.
Back in 2012, overall retirement confidence was at one of its lowest points at 52%, Lisa Greenwald, assistant vice president for Greenwald & Associates, said on a conference call discussing the results. Now, at 60%, confidence is pretty comparable to its 2015 level.
“Overall retirement confidence seems to have remained relatively stable over the past two to three years,” Greenwald said.
Among workers with a retirement plan, whether a DC or DB plan or an IRA, confidence increases to over 70%, compared to just a third of those without a plan.
“This dichotomy between those with a plan and those without extends beyond just overall confidence,” Stephen Blakely, editor and communications director, said on the call.
EBRI found that 74% of workers who have a retirement plan are actively saving, compared with 7% of workers without a plan. That’s not to say workers who do have a plan have made a lot of progress in saving for retirement. The survey found just over a quarter have saved more than $250,000, but only 9% are in the same dire situation as their non-planning counterparts.
Blakely noted that the difference in total investable between workers with a plan and those without shows “just how precarious their situation really is.” Two-thirds of workers without a plan have less than $1,000 in total savings, he said.
“Retirement confidence is much lower for Americans without any type of retirement plan,” Blakely said. “For these Americans without a plan, achieving a financially secure retirement is highly unlikely, and not surprisingly, they’re feeling stressed about it.”
“It’s no wonder that three-quarters of those without a plan think that they will need to wait until at least age 70 to retire, or won’t retire at all, or don’t even know when they plan to retire,” he continued.
Stress and Wellness
EBRI asked some new questions on this year’s RCS about how stressed workers and retirees are about retirement. EBRI found 30% of workers said preparing for retirement is causing them mental or emotional stress. Workers without a retirement plan are almost twice as likely to feel stressed as those with a plan.