While Politically Divided, Americans United in Fear of Affording Retirement

February 23, 2021

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Source: 401k Specialist, by Brian Anderson

Everyone knows how politically divided the country is these days, but Americans can agree on some things: The pandemic has increased concerns about financial security in retirement, and they want Social Security to be around for the long haul to help.

A new report from the National Institute on Retirement Security shows the vast majority of Democrats (70%), Independents (70%) and Republicans (62%) agree that the nation faces a retirement crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. There also is bipartisan agreement that the average worker cannot save enough on their own to guarantee a secure retirement.

The national survey of working-age Americans found 51% of Americans say the pandemic has increased concerns about achieving financial security in retirement. And the COVID-19 concern is high across party lines: 57% among Democrats; 50% for Independents; and at 44% for Republicans.

The survey, “Retirement Insecurity 2021 | Americans’ Views of Retirement,” was conducted by Greenwald Research to measure sentiment on a broad range of retirement issues. The full report is available here, and it will also be the subject of a webinar scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. ET to review the findings.

“Today’s COVID-19 job losses, furloughs and pay cuts will further damage Americans’ ability to have a secure retirement. This new research shows the deep economic impacts of the pandemic have only increased Americans’ retirement anxiety,” said Dan Doonan, NIRS executive director and report co-author.

“We also found that retirement anxiety transcends political affiliation. Across party lines, Americans are frustrated with policymakers and that they can’t save enough on their own to be self-sufficient in retirement,” Doonan said. “As such, enacting retirement policy solutions would be a win-win for policymakers and the country, delivering financial relief for working families on an issue that concerns Americans on both sides of the aisle.”

The research indicates Americans see several factors contributing to their struggle to prepare for retirement. The escalating cost of healthcare (59%) and long-term care top the list (56%). Other factors include longer life spans (53%), stagnant salaries (51%), fewer pensions (51%), debt (47%) and “do-it-yourself” retirement plans (45%).

Nearly 70% surveyed said most workers do not have the financial skills to manage money in retirement, which helps explain why 65% said they see pensions as better than 401k plans for providing retirement security. About three-fourths said that “all workers should have access to a pension plan so they can be independent and self-reliant in retirement.”

Expand Social Security?

In terms of retirement policy, the research indicates that Americans are highly supportive of Social Security(79%), and that it should remain a priority of the nation no matter the state of budget deficits. Nearly half (49%) surveyed were in strong agreement.

Most surveyed (60%) support the idea of increasing the amount that workers and employers contribute to Social Security to ensure it will be around for future generations. And half support expanding Social Security, with 25% saying it should be expanded for all Americans and 25% saying it should be expanded except for wealthier households.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Institute on Retirement Security is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established to contribute to informed policymaking by fostering a deep understanding of the value of retirement security to employees, employers and the economy as a whole. NIRS membership includes financial services firms, employee benefit plans, trade associations, and other retirement service providers.

 

 

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