Americans Expect Financial Security to Be Elusive in Retirement

Among all age groups, 76% think people in their generation will have a harder time achieving financial security in retirement than their parents, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found.

“What is ‘Retirement’? Three Generations Prepare for Older Age,” prepared by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, looked at the retirement outlook of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.

 

All generations—Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials—associate retirement with freedom, enjoyment and being stress-free. Among those of all ages, 72% are looking forward to retirement. Among Baby Boomers, this is 81%. For Gen Xers, it is 70%, and Millennials, 68%.

However, among all age groups, 76% think people in their generation will have a harder time achieving financial security in retirement than their parents. This is slightly lower for Baby Boomers (69%) but higher for Generation X (81%) and Millennials (79%).

Thirteen percent of workers expect to live to age 100. Among Millennials, it is 17%; Generation X, 11%; and Boomers, 9%.

Millennials are a digital do-it-yourself generation of retirement savers. Seventy-one percent are saving through a workplace retirement plan. At the median, they began saving for retirement at age 24. Among those participating in a workplace retirement plan, they are saving a median of 10% of their salaries. Fifty-three percent expect their primary source of retirement income to be self-funded through retirement accounts. They have a median of $23,000 saved in all household retirement accounts.

Twenty-one percent of Millennials frequently discuss savings, investing and planning for retirement with family and friends—significantly higher than for the older generations. Seventy-two percent say they do not know as much as they should about retirement investing, and 72% would like to receive more information from their employers about how to achieve their retirement goals.

Generation X is the first generation to have had access to 401(k) plans for the majority of their working careers. Some have taken loans and early withdrawals (32%), their retirement confidence is lacking, and many are behind on their savings. Seventy-seven percent are saving for retirement in a company-sponsored retirement plan or outside of that plan.

They started saving at a median age of 30 and contribute a median of 8% of their salaries. Only 14% have a written retirement strategy. They have a median of $66,000 saved in all household retirement accounts. Only 14% are very confident they will be able to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.

Seventy percent of Baby Boomers either expect or are already working past age 65—or do not plan to ever retire. However, only 56% are focused on staying healthy and only 40% are keeping their job skills up to date to ensure that they will be able to continue working.

Forty-two percent envision a phased transition into retirement, and 63% are hoping to stay with their current employer while transitioning into retirement.

Seventy-eight percent of Boomers are saving for retirement in a company-sponsored retirement plan or outside the plan. They started saving at a median of age 35. They are saving a median of 10% of their salaries and have a median of $152,000 household savings in retirement accounts. Only 26% have a backup plan for retirement income should they be forced to retire sooner than expected.

Among all age groups, they are planning to live to a median of age 90. They consider a person to be old once they have turned 70. Millennials consider a person age 70, at the median, to be too old to work, but for Boomers and Generation X, it is age 75.

Asked about their retirement fears, the most frequently cited is outliving savings.

The Harris Poll conducted the 19th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of 5,168 workers between last October and December. Transamerica’s full report can be downloaded here.

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