Nearly a quarter, 24%, of women who are working or who have recently lost their job say their confidence in their ability to retire comfortably has declined amid the pandemic, according to “Women and Retirement: Risks and Realities Amid COVID-19,” a report by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
A mere 17% of women say they are very confident they will be able to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.
“2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the U.S.,” says Catherine Collinson, president and CEO of the Transamerica Institute and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. “Since then, women have made great strides in educational achievement and career opportunities. Despite this progress, they continue to be at greater risk than men of not achieving a financially secure retirement.”
Fifty-two percent of women say they have experienced one or more negative impacts to their employment as a result of the pandemic, including reduced work hours (24%), layoffs (16%), reduced salaries (13%), furloughs (13%) and/or early retirement (4%).
Women say they have several financial priorities that compete with one another. These include paying off debt (59%), saving for retirement (50%), building emergency savings (44%) and covering basic living expenses (33%).
Seventy percent of women are saving for retirement, be that in a current workplace plan (49%), outside of work (31%) or in a former employer’s plan (9%).
Despite their concerns about retirement, women are keeping a positive outlook for the most part, with more than 80% saying they have close relationships with family and/or friends, 85% saying they are generally happy and 84% saying they are enjoying life. However, 44% often feel anxious, and 35% are having trouble making ends meet.
Thirty-eight percent of women have served as a caregiver during the course of their working careers, and, among this group, 91% have made an adjustment to their work situation.
“During the pandemic, women are being stretched to their limits, in some instances balancing their job responsibilities with home schooling children and, possibly, caregiving for an aging parent or loved one,” Collinson says. “Right now, it is especially important for women to take care of themselves and their own well-being.
Fifty-four percent of women expect to work past 65 or never retire, and 56% plan to work at least part time in retirement. Of this latter group, 81% say it is for financial reasons. And 76% say it is to remain active.
Women have saved a median of $28,000 for retirement. Millennial women have a median retirement savings of $11,000; Generation X, $46,000; and Baby Boomers, $84,000. Women have a median of a mere $5,000 in emergency savings. Among Millennials, this is $2,000; Gen X, $5,000; and Boomers, $10,000.
To safeguard women’s financial futures, Transamerica recommends they engage in financial planning by creating a budget, prioritizing expenses, setting both short- and long-term goals and developing a retirement strategy. According to a survey Transamerica conducted in June, only 19% of women have a written financial strategy for retirement.
Transamerica also says women should be proactive about remaining employable past 65 or in retirement. Transamerica found that only 46% of women are focused on performing well in their current job. A mere 41% are keeping their job skills up to date, just 20% are networking, and only 18% are perusing the job market.
Beyond this, Transamerica says women should safeguard their health. Fifty-eight percent of women say they are eating healthy foods, 55% say they seek medical attention as needed, 54% are exercising regularly and 53% are getting plenty of rest.
Start the conversation, Transamerica implores. Only 22% of women discuss saving, investing and saving for retirement with family and friends.
“Preparing for retirement involves careful budgeting, saving, planning and goal-setting,” Collinson says.