The 25th Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) from the
Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) finds Americans’ confidence in their
ability to afford a comfortable retirement has continued to rebound from the
record lows experienced between 2009 and 2013, but this increased level of
confidence does not appear to be grounded on objectively improved retirement
According to the report, “The 2015 Retirement Confidence
Survey: Having a Retirement Savings Plan a Key Factor in Americans’ Retirement
Confidence,” 22% are now very confident (up from 13% in 2013 and 18% in 2014),
while 36% are somewhat confident. Twenty-four percent are not at all confident
(statistically unchanged from 28% in 2013 and 24% in 2014).
The increased confidence since 2013 is strongly related to
retirement plan participation, the report says. Among those with a plan, the
percentage very confident increased from 14% in 2013 to 28% in 2015. In
contrast, the percentage very confident remained statistically unchanged among
those without a plan (10% in 2013, 9% in 2014, and 12% in 2015).
Retiree confidence in having a financially secure
retirement, which historically tends to exceed worker confidence levels, has
also increased, with 37% very confident (up from 18% in 2013 and 28% in 2014).
The percentage not at all confident was 14% (statistically unchanged from 14% in
2013 and 17% in 2014).
Worker confidence in the affordability of various aspects of
retirement also rebounded. In particular, the percentage of workers who are
very confident in their ability to pay for basic expenses increased (37%, up
from 25% in 2013 and 29% in 2014). The percentages of workers who are very
confident in their ability to pay for medical expenses (18%, up from 12% in
2011) and long-term care expenses (14%, up from 9% in 2011) are slowly inching
Sixty-seven percent of workers report they or their spouses
have saved for retirement (statistically equivalent to 64% in 2014), although
nearly eight in 10 (78%) full-time workers say that they or their spouses have
done so. Still, a sizable percentage of workers report they have virtually no
savings and investments. Among RCS workers providing this type of information,
28% say they have less than $1,000, though those who indicate they and their
spouse do not have a retirement plan, such as an individual retirement account
(IRA), defined contribution (DC) or defined benefit (DB) plan, are far more
likely than those who have a plan to report this low level of savings (64% vs.
9%) and far less likely to report having saved at least $100,000 (3% vs. 35%).
Cost of living and day-to-day expenses head the list of
reasons why workers do not save (or save more) for retirement, with 50% of
workers citing these factors. Nevertheless, many workers say they could save a
small amount more. Seven in 10 (69%) state they could save $25 a week more than
they are currently saving for retirement.