Survey: More expect to delay retirement until their 80s

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Workers are growing to accept the idea that they might be working long after they’ve become eligible for senior discounts. Yet rather than fixate on their target retirement age, they’re increasingly focused on how much money they’ll need to retire, according to a new national survey by Wells Fargo & Co.

This shift is coupled with their growing frustration that they’re not saving enough, and the reality that many haven’t created a detailed retirement plan. A striking result of the survey released Wednesday is that 25 percent of the respondents said they’ll need to work until at least age 80 because they will not have enough money to retire comfortably.

Even those who plan to retire expect to continue working in some capacity.

• About 75 percent said they expect to work in their retirement years.

• About 39 percent said they will need to work to afford things they want or to maintain their lifestyle.

• Thirty-five percent will work because they want to.

The findings come at a time when a volatile stock market continues to create anxiety over 401(k) balances, and political leaders are discussing cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

About half of those surveyed between the ages of 25 and 49 say they are willing to accept future reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits to help lower the nation’s total debt. For those aged 50 to 59 that drops to 28 percent, and only 19 percent of those over 60 agree with such program cuts.

That signifies a shift in the expectations of government support in retirement, said Laurie Nordquist, another Wells Fargo retirement director.

More than a quarter of people in their 20s and 30s don’t expect any income at all from Social Security during their retirement years. On average, people in this age group who expect to receive some Social Security payments predict that they will cover only 20 percent of their income. Currently, the Social Security Administration says benefits replace about 40 percent of the average worker’s income in retirement.

It seems the old expectations of working until one’s 60s and then taking it easy have been cast aside.

In the survey, 76 percent of the workers interviewed said it’s more important to have a specific amount saved before retirement, regardless of age. Only 20 percent said it is more important to retire at a specific age, regardless of savings.

This change in attitude of working to save a specific dollar amount is grounded in reality, said Joe Ready, a director of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust. But he notes that it raises a lot of larger issues for the workplace and the economy that have yet to play out. For instance, evaluating the potential impact on advancement opportunities for younger workers if their older peers stay on the job.

The survey focused on 1,500 respondents in their 20s through their 70s with household income of $25,000 to $99,999, and household investable assets of $99,999 or less. The intent was to center in on middle-class workers and retirees. The telephone interviews were completed between early August and late September.

The survey also shows workers are coming to terms with the fact that they aren’t saving enough.

The median saving goal for retirement among survey respondents was $350,000, while their median savings was just $25,000, about 7 percent of the goal.

Nordquist said it has been clear for several years that workers haven’t been saving enough. That’s due in part to a lack of trust in the stock market – 68 percent surveyed said they aren’t confident in the stock market as a place to invest for retirement.

Retirement planning is still something that most workers haven’t focused on. The survey shows 69 percent of respondents do not have a written financial plan. A majority – 60 percent – said they were overwhelmed or that it was pointless because they’re too far behind to catch up.

That means that they don’t expect to have much money to leave behind. About 43 percent said they don’t expect to leave an inheritance to their children. Even among households surveyed with more than $100,000 in income, 29 percent don’t expect to leave any savings behind.

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augusta citizen
augusta citizen 11/17/11 - 09:21 am
"This shift is coupled with

"This shift is coupled with their growing frustration that they're not saving enough..." I see this as a positive, the first step to changing is the realization that you need to change, hopefully these folks will make concerted efforts to save more.

"About 39 percent said they will need to work to afford things they want or to maintain their lifestyle." Maybe this group needs to focus on these "things" and their "lifestyle" and decide if it's what is important. Many people choose a simpler lifestyle as they age affording them less maintenance and stress and more time for their families, hobbies and fellowship with friends. Maybe getting out of the "rat race" would be a good thing, and getting by with less could allow for that.

"That signifies a shift in the expectations of government support in retirement..." Another positive since it's unsustainable currently.

Unfortunately, many people forgot somewhere along the way that Social Security was meant to be a supplement in retirement, not the whole enchilada. That's probably why so many people became consumers not savers.

seenitB4 11/17/11 - 09:23 am
This is not good news...some

This is not good news...some are alert in their 80s & others are not.....take Coach Paterno for instance......too much "stuff" going on around him for him to ignore.....some need to retire in their 60s.

augusta citizen
augusta citizen 11/17/11 - 10:06 am
seenitB4, Paterno is

seenitB4, Paterno is definitely one who should have been long gone.

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