The survey, conducted by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, revealed pervasive uncertainty about the economy, with the popular belief being that it is headed in the wrong direction, as a leading source of trepidation about the ability to save for a comfortable retirement.
A sense of being overwhelmed about retirement planning further heightens the distress many Americans feel about long term financial security. While nearly all respondents (92%) surveyed say they are confident in their personal financial decision making, almost four in 10 of the general population (39%), more than half (52%) of Gen Y, and a third of Gen X say they don’t know where to begin when it comes to planning for retirement.
Among factors the survey looked at were people’s perceptions of the direction the economy is heading. From a generational standpoint, Gen X (82%) believes the economy is headed in the wrong direction and feels the least financially secure (47%) of any group. In comparison, three-fourths of the general population also shares a pessimistic view of the economy’s direction, while more than one-third (37%) do not have a sense of financial security. Gen X members (59%) are also the most concerned that they will not have enough money saved for retirement.
As for how their perceptions of the economy have impacted their overall financial decision making, the survey revealed that two-thirds of respondents from the general population (65%) are more likely to keep their money in a savings account rather than invest it, despite the fact that 62% of them feel that a down market is an opportunity. However, most respondents (60%) still believe it is important to keep investing in their retirement fund because the economy is less stable, with skittish Gen X being the exception: 47% of respondents from this cohort believe investing in their retirement fund is actually less important during this time of economic instability.
The Guardian national survey was conducted among U.S. respondents by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates using 1,202 telephone interviews from September 27-October 9, 2011.