Despite what appears to be a recovering economy and continuing efforts to
educate the population about the importance of planning and saving for retirement,
the percentage of Americans who say they are saving for retirement has remained
stagnant since 2001, according to new survey results.
This survey is the Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), conducted annually by
the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the American Savings Education
Council (ASEC), and Mathew Greenwald & Associates.
The organizations say their 2004 RCS sheds light on why some Americans are
not saving for retirement. It also indicates what kind of educational approaches
are most effective in prompting individuals to change their financial behavior.
Unrealistic expectations and ignorance of how much money they'll actually need
to retire comfortably have combined to make American workers' overly confident
that they'll be adequately prepared for retirement.
"In the 14 years that we have done the RCS, the aggregate level of worker
confidence in having enough money to retire
comfortably seems to remain unrelated to whatever economic conditions exist,"
stated Dallas Salisbury, president and
CEO of EBRI. "This year, one-quarter (24 percent) of workers are very confident
and more than 4 in 10 (44 percent) are
somewhat confident. Almost half of workers (47 percent) who have not saved for
retirement are at least somewhat
confident about having enough money in retirement, with expectations that their
retirement money will inevitably come
from somewhere. America appears to be a nation of optimists when it comes to
retirement, but for some people the
retirement dream may turn into a nightmare."
The 2004 RCS shows that 58 percent of workers say they are currently saving
for retirement, but the amount they have
saved is low. The survey finds that 45 percent of all workers report total household
assets, excluding the value of their
home, of less than $25,000. The proportion of workers who say they are currently
saving for retirement has remained
unchanged since 2001 (58 percent in 2004 vs. 62 percent in 2003, 61 percent
in 2002, and 61 percent in 2001).
Additionally, the survey also shows that some techniques to educate workers
and change the way they handle their
finances are more successful than others. Even with all the computer technology
and Internet information now available
to consumers, most who receive education through an employer say they found
personalized, one-on-one, and print
communication most helpful.