Pre-Retiree Retirement Security Confidence Declines

A Watson Wyatt survey found that workers aged 50 to 64 are much less confident they will have enough to retire than they were two years ago.

The latest Watson Wyatt poll found 44% of respondents were confident of being able to enjoy retirement security five years after stopping work—significantly below the 63% who gave a similar answer in a 2007 survey, according to a release of the results.

The outlook was even bleaker when respondents were asked about their nest eggs lasting 15 years into retirement. Only 18% thought they have sufficient resources to be comfortable for this long, compared with 34% who felt that way in 2007.

According to Watson Wyatt:

  • More active workers said the financial crisis has resulted in higher stress about retirement security (31%) than about job losses (24%) and access to affordable health care (15%).
  • While some workers are increasing their savings (19% have done so and another 34% are considering doing so), others have borrowed or withdrawn money from retirement savings (9%) or are considering doing so in the next 12 months (9%).

“Retirement security is a huge concern as individuals have seen significant amounts of their pension and retirement savings decline,” said David Speier, senior retirement consultant at Watson Wyatt, in the news release. “And the financial crisis has been especially damaging to older workers who are worried about potential job losses and have experienced higher stress levels over the past year.”

However, the survey also found that retirement concerns are significantly eased for workers who have a defined benefit plan rather than only a defined contribution plan: 55% of workers with DB plans are very confident of having enough resources to live comfortably five years into retirement compared with 38% of those with only DC plans.

Confidence is higher for individuals with DB plans for longer time horizons as well, although the farther into retirement individuals look, the more confidence falls across the board. When looking at 15 years out, only 26% of workers with DB plans remain very confident—nearly double the level of workers with DC-only plans (14%).

The survey, conducted in February, included responses from more than 2,200 full-time workers.