Retirement Confidence Rising, But serious Obstacles Remain

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New findings from the national Retirement Confidence Survey,1 the longest running survey of its kind, reveal that Americans’ confidence that they will be prepared for retirement continues to rise, with two-thirds (67%) of the working population now saying they are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years. This level of confidence is the highest since the Great Recession, when just half (54%) of workers felt confident they could attain a financially secure retirement.


Nonetheless, serious obstacles remain. Debt, especially among younger people burdened by student loans, too often gets in the way of retirement preparation. A majority of Americans - six in ten - say their debt is a problem, and one in five say it is a serious problem. Seven in ten say their non-mortgage debt has limited their ability to save and prepare for retirement.


Family obligations also often get in they way of retirement preparation, the survey shows. For example, three in ten say that they have provided unpaid caregiving for a family member or friend, and, among those providing care, approximately one in four say that caregiving has prevented them from saving (26%), led to an increase in debt (23%), and reduced their contributions to a workplace retirement plan (22%).


Achieving financial peace of mind, rather than being wealthy, is a growing priority. Half of workers now expect to have a guarantee lifetime income (GLI) product as a source of income in retirement, up from a third (35%) in 2018.


Faced with rising life expectancy and today’s financial uncertainties, more workers are expecting to both delay retirement and include some work for pay during their retirement years. Eight in workers anticipate working for pay in retirement. Working pre-retirees also expect to retire at age 65, versus the average retirement age of 62 among today’s retirees. However, those who anticipate funding their retirement by working later should account for the potential for forced early retirement: More than four in ten retirees retired earlier than they expected, often due to health problems or an unexpected loss of a job.

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1.  Employee Benefit Research Institute, Retirement Confidence Survey, 2019

This publication is designed to provide general information and is for discussion purposes only. The effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon each individual’s facts and circumstances. This article does not provide legal, tax or account advice. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error, the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information is not guaranteed.