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3 Generations United in Their Concerns About Retirement: Survey

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Social Security is important to all generations, not just the older set, at least according to a new survey released by AARP and the Association of Young Americans. About 78% of those surveyed agree Social Security is very important to people’s retirement, while 96% agree the program is very or somewhat important.

(Related: Alicia Munnell: The Social Security Fix No One Wants)

Medicare also is important to all generations, with 86% of those surveyed stating it is “important to people’s health in retirement.” Further, 92% said it was somewhat important that Medicare is there for retirement. Broken down, 97% of baby boomers, 95% of Gen Xers and 86% of millennials felt it was somewhat important for Medicare to be available when they retire.

The poll of 4,862 adults, ages 18 to 74, was conducted online by NORC’s AmeriSpeak online panel from July 10 to Aug. 7.

“AYA and AARP began working together because we know that older Americans and younger Americans have far more similarities than differences,” said AARP Senior Vice President Jean Setzfand, in a statement.

Ben Brown, founder of AYA, added: “Our goal was to garner additional insight into how the sentiments of older and younger Americans overlap when it comes to both personal and national financial security. These findings clearly indicate that all three generations care deeply about programs that ensure long-term financial success for individuals, families and our nation as a whole.”

Other survey findings showed “pretty good” perceptions of current national and personal economic circumstances. For example, 70% of those surveyed believe the U.S. economy is “very or fairly good.” Seventy-four percent of baby boomers felt this way, along with 63% of millennials.

Sixty-two percent of those surveyed felt very or somewhat satisfied with their own financial situation, with 69% of baby boomers saying so, followed by 61% of Gen Xers and 55% of millennials.

But when asked if they would have enough to retire on, the mood changed, with 46% not at all or not too confident. Gen Xers were most worried — 52% of them said so — while 47% of millennials are worried. Baby boomers weren’t as worried, with 40% saying they lacked confidence.

Economic inequality is a looming issue across all generations, the survey found, with 80% over all stating they see economic inequality as a big or moderate problem.

Another concern was how much of total income was spent. Over half (55%) spent equal to or more than their total income. Also, 53% of those surveyed said they could cover expenses for only three months or less if they lost their jobs, including 61% of millennials and 56% of Gen Xers.

Regarding retirement, 47% overall said they had not put away any money. This includes 52% of millennials and 44% of GenXers and baby boomers.

Only one third of those surveyed sought advice from a financial professional, although 76% stated they thought that advice would be “very or somewhat trustworthy.”

Debt-wise, 47% have credit card debt, 43% have a mortgage or car loan debt, and 31% have student loan debt.

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