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Survey looks at outlook

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POSTED December 29, 2013 6:42 p.m.

Americans’ dreams of the “golden years” have increasingly become tarnished by harsh financial realities.

Indeed, a new survey of U.S. employees and retirees presents a disturbing portrait of the retirement crisis — among both current workers and retirees.

These statistics show just how difficult it has become for Americans to save enough for retirement.

 Lack of savings:

•57% of workers have $25,000 or less in savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary homes and benefit plans, and 28% of workers have less than $1,000 saved.

•Among retirees, 55% have $25,000 or less in savings and investments, and 31% have less than $1,000.

•Just 50% of workers and 52% of retirees said they could come up with $2,000 if an emergency or unexpected need occurred within the next month, while 28% of both groups said they probably or definitely could not produce $2,000, if needed.

Inability to afford basic living expenses:

•The percentage of workers saying they’re “not too” or “not at all” confident in their ability to pay for basic retirement expenses is 29%, while 52% are “not too” or “not at all” confident they have enough money for basic post-retirement medical expenses and 62% are “not too” or “not at all” confident they can pay for long-term care expenses.

•Among retirees, 23% are “not at all” or “not too” confident they have enough money for basic expenses, 30% are “not too” confident or “not at all” confident they can pay for medical expenses, and 54% are “not too” or “not at all” confident they can pay for long-term care expenses. 

•Because of more immediate financial concerns, just 2% of workers and 4% of retirees name saving or planning for retirement as the most important financial issue in their lives.

Reasons behind delaying retirement:

•The top five reasons workers gave for planning to delay retirement were the poor economy (25%), lack of faith in Social Security or government (21%), inadequate finances or inability to afford to retire (21%), a desire to make sure they have enough money to retire comfortably (16%) and change in job situation (13%).

•Debt also weighs heavily on Americans when they consider their retirement, as 55% of workers and 39% of retirees reported having a problem with their level of debt.

•Almost half, 47%, of current retirees were forced to retire early, mainly because of disabilities, poor health, the loss of a job and the inability to get a new one.

•Finally, the amount of workers saving for retirement is at its lowest level since 2001.

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