More Americans are worried about having enough saved for retirement, according to the Pew Research Center. The center surveyed more than 2,500 adults and found a 13-percentage-point increase in the number of adults who say they are “not too” or “not at all” confident about having enough income and assets in retirement. The latest survey found that 38% of Americans have these worries, versus 25% in February and March of 2009.
The increase in fear appears to be an extension of a longer-term trend. In their report, Pew researchers cited a Gallup study that showed the percentage of adults fearful of not having enough money to live comfortably in retirement rose from 32% in 2002 to 66% last year. Gallup also found a 12-percentage-point increase (54% to 66%) among those who worry about not having enough money to retire.
Concerns about retirement are most prevalent among those with less education and income, according to Pew. Only 53% of those holding a high school diploma or having a lower educational achievement were confident about their retirement finances, versus 71% of college graduates. Similarly, confidence was lower among those with annual household incomes below $50,000 (51%) than those with annual household incomes above $100,000 (79%).
Fears about retirement savings were highest among those in their late 30s and early 40s. Pew found that nearly half (49%) of these Generation X members were “not too” or “not at all” confident about having enough to live on in retirement. In contrast, 39% of those aged 55 to 64 and only 28% of those aged 65 or older shared such worries.
Why are retirement worries peaking among those in the 35 to 44 age bracket? Pew says that over the past decade, this group has “lost the most wealth of any age group, and nearly all of those losses have occurred since the Great Recession began in 2007.” Median household wealth plunged 56% for this age group, from $99,727 in 2001 to $43,698 in 2010.
There are two reasons why. First, this age group has not had time to build financial wealth. More people in this group also got out of the stock market over the last decade. This resulted in the group disproportionately missing out on the post-financial crisis rally in stock prices. They also had less time to build equity in their homes, resulting in the housing price collapse erasing a larger portion of their home equity.
Source: “More Americans Worry About Financing Retirement,” Rich Morin and Richard Fry, Pew Research Center.