Americans Want Pensions Back

A public opinion research report indicates Americans think the recession revealed the flaws in the current retirement plan landscape and the government should make it easier for employers to offer pensions.

According to “Pensions and Retirement Security 2011:  A Roadmap for Policymakers,” released by the National Institute on Retirement Security, nearly nine of 10 Americans polled believe the retirement system is under stress and needs to be reformed. More than 80% of Americans believe that recent economic downturn exposed the risks of America’s retirement system, and nearly three-quarters believe that stock market volatility makes it impossible for the average American to predict how much money they will have in their nest egg when they retire.   

The poll results suggest pensions are reliable and relieve retirement anxiety. Eighty-three percent of Americans surveyed indicated that those with pensions are more likely to have a secure retirement, and 72% of those who have a pension are confident it will be there at retirement. In addition, 75% believe the disappearance of pensions has made it harder to achieve the “American Dream.” 

Nearly 80% of respondents believe leaders in Washington do not understand how hard it is to prepare for retirement in this economy. Eighty-three percent say the government should make it easier for employers to offer pensions, and 81% believe that Washington leaders need to give a higher priority to ensuring more Americans can have a secure retirement.

Eighty-four percent of Americans surveyed are concerned that current economic conditions are impacting their ability to achieve a secure retirement, with more than half (54%) very concerned.  

They have lowered their expectations for retirement, defining a secure retirement as simply surviving or living comfortably (34%), paying their bills (17%), and maintaining their pre-retirement lifestyle (11%). Only 11% expect retirement to include leisure, travel, restaurants, and/or hobbies.  

The research found Americans are taking a number of actions to improve their retirement prospects-saving more, getting rid of debt, delaying retirement, or looking for jobs with a pension. 

The report is here