California Claims Top Three Cities in Retirement Readiness Index

Many residents of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. report feeling significantly less confident than they did a year ago about their retirement readiness.

Ameriprise Financial’s “New Retirement Mindscape 2011 City Pulse Index,” examined the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas to determine where consumers are the most prepared for and confident about retirement. The Index also tracks national and local retirement trends over time.

While three quarters (75%) of Americans say they’ve taken steps to prepare financially for retirement, the economic uncertainly that has persisted over the past year appears to be taking a toll on people’s emotions. A mere 18% of consumers surveyed across the U.S. say they believe they’ll achieve their dreams in retirement, down significantly from 21% who shared this sentiment in 2010. Likewise, when asked how they feel about this stage of life, more Americans express negative feelings than they did last year, including the number who say they feel worried (24% vs. 21%), anxious (21% vs. 17%) and depressed (10% vs. 8%) when they think about retirement.

These increasing levels of skepticism may help explain why fewer people report planning for the activities they’ll pursue during retirement. With rising health care costs and the continuing national debate around the topic, it is surprising that the number of Americans who are making plans to ensure they remain healthy has declined (51% vs. 55%). The number who report planning to spend more time with family (37% vs. 41%), travel (23% vs. 26%), decide which hobbies to pursue (19% vs. 21%), volunteer (13% vs. 15%) and continue their education (10% vs. 13%) has also dropped significantly.


“A bit of pessimism is understandable considering that the financial markets have been highly volatile, unemployment remains high and many have seen the value of their homes continue to decline,” said Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial. “While all these issues can make focusing on retirement difficult, they also underscore the need for careful planning that doesn’t just take in account the things you can control, but also factors in the impact of those you can’t.”

The 30 metropolitan areas that were surveyed were ranked as follows:

1.  San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose

2.  Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto

3.  San Diego                   

4.  St. Louis

5.  Portland

6.  Hartford-New Haven

7.  Dallas-Ft. Worth

8.  Los Angeles

9.  Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne

10.  Philadelphia

11.  Chicago

12.  Pittsburgh

13.  Tampa-St. Petersburg

14.  Seattle-Tacoma

15.  Houston

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16.  Denver

17.  Phoenix

18.  Minneapolis-St. Paul

19.  Raleigh-Durham

20.  Detroit

21.  Baltimore

22.  Charlotte

23.  Boston

24.  Miami-Ft. Lauderdale

25.  Washington, DC

26.  Nashville

27.  Cleveland-Akron

28.  Atlanta

29.  New York City

30.  Indianapolis

The Retirement Mindscape index was created by Ameriprise Financial with survey responses from 11,611 U.S. adults ages 40-75. The survey was commissioned by Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and conducted online by Harris Interactive from August 4-12, 2011.