Make us your home page
Instagram

Retirement dreams wither, survey finds

A few years ago, school librarian Sherrie Williams was confident a comfortable retirement was in her future.

"I used to think that my state employee pension and Social Security would be enough to live on," said Williams, 38, who lives in Largo. She said she changed her mind after "seeing my retired parents struggling to stretch their retirement funds to cover insurance and other medical costs. & I don't see how anyone middle class will be able to afford to retire before they are Medicare-eligible."

Like Williams, many U.S. workers have lost their once-rosy optimism about retirement.

The annual Retirement Confidence Survey, released today, shows the most dramatic one-year drop ever in the percentage of workers who describe themselves as very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement.

That may not be a bad thing, researchers say.

In the past, "people were relatively confident they'd have enough money, but if you looked at what assets they had, it was just pathetically low," said Jack VanDerhei, researcher for the Employee Benefit Research Institute, which conducted the survey with Mathew Greenwald & Associates. "The good news is that false optimism has started to evaporate. The bad news is that it hasn't translated into a lot of increased retirement savings."

In fact, the savings reported in the survey this year weren't a lot different than last year. About 49 percent of workers said they have less than $25,000 in savings, not including the value of their homes. Just 12 percent have more than $250,000.

Despite those low savings, a year ago, 27 percent of workers were "very confident" of a comfortable retirement; now only 18 percent feel that way, the biggest drop in the 18-year history of the survey. Last year, 29 percent said they were either "not too confident" or "not at all confident." This year, 37 percent were in negative categories.

The retirees surveyed also have become less certain about the future. More than half (54 percent) said they are more concerned about their financial future than they were right after they retired, up from 40 percent last year.

Confidence levels have been affected by the downturn in the economy, particularly the decline in home values and stock prices and the rise in unemployment.

"Securities markets are becoming even more volatile and risky, while safe investments scarcely keep pace with inflation," said Charles Lehnert, 57, of Riverview. "My retirement plans depend on being able to double my investments every eight years, a goal that is becoming less realistic as the recession deepens."

In addition, workers have become more aware of problems in their traditional safety nets. Ever fewer numbers expect Social Security and Medicare to provide them with the same level of benefits current retirees receive. Only about a third expect employer-provided health insurance to cover them in retirement.

One heartening statistic from the Retirement Confidence Survey is that nearly half (47 percent) of workers report having tried to calculate how much money they need for retirement, which often becomes a catalyst for increased saving.

VanDerhei said heightened insecurity about retirement combined with the automatic enrollment programs companies are starting to offer for their 401(k) plans may lead to increased saving. Employees who realize the need to save should be less likely to opt out of the programs, he said.

Total savings and investments

Workers Retirees
Less than $10,000 36 percent 51 percent
$10,000-$24,999 13 percent 9 percent
$25,000-$49,999 12 percent 9 percent
$50,000-$99,999 12 percent 6 percent
$100,000-$249,999 15 percent 13 percent
$250,000+ 12 percent 12 percent

Not including value of primary residence or defined benefit pension plan

Source: 2008 Retirement Confidence Survey

Total savings and investments














Workers



Retirees




Less than $10,000



36 percent



51 percent




$10,000-$24,999



13 percent



9 percent




$25,000-$49,999



12 percent



9 percent




$50,000-$99,999



12 percent



6 percent




$100,000-$249,999



15 percent



13 percent




$250,000+



12 percent



12 percent





*Not including value of primary residence or defined benefit pension plan

Source: 2008 Retirement Confidence Survey

Retirement dreams wither, survey finds 04/09/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 13, 2008 10:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.