Positive Economic Outlook Doesn’t Mean Positive Personal Outlook

The annual Mercer Workplace Survey revealed that while participants in employer-sponsored benefit plans are optimistic about the direction of the U.S. economy, they are not confident with their own situation.

Retirement savings adequacy is a major concern for the majority of participants: 65% say they are not saving enough for retirement, and that they should have started saving earlier (64%).  In addition, participants continue to lower their expectations for income in retirement, indicating they would like an average of 76% of their pre-retirement annual income in retirement, down from the 80% -82% range found since May of 2006.  

Showing their optimism in the state of the economy overall, the proportion of participants expecting the economy to grow has increased sharply since June 2008 (21 points, to 77%), and close to the level registered in 2007 before the global crisis. The share expecting the economy to be heading for recession has fallen by almost half, to 23%.  

However, according to a press release, when asked about perceived job security over the next 12 months, 36% of respondents indicated they are at least “concerned,” the highest level since the survey’s inception.  More than one third (35%) of participants have at least considered delaying retirement. 

The survey represents a national cross-section of active 401(k) participants defined as those currently contributing to a 401(k) plan irrespective of balance or having a 401(k) balance of $1,000 or more with their current employer whether or not they are currently contributing.  Eligible non-participants and those only holding balances at previous employers are not included in this research.  Respondents are also required to be enrolled in their employer’s health plan.  Online interviews were completed with 1,502 participants between May 27 and June 15, 2010.