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Pensions and Retirement Security: A Roadmap for Policy Makers

USA Map RWBNew research finds retirement insecurity across the nation. Americans say access to pensions would reduce anxiety and express strong support for government action to ease the way for employers to offer pensions. 

Download the full research findings here.

Current economic conditions have more than eight out of ten Americans worried about their ability to retire.  Some 71% indicate they feel it is harder today to retire as compared to previous generations.

The findings indicate that Americans believe pensions can help reduce insecurity, with 55% expressing that a pension would increase their own retirement confidence and 84% saying that policymakers should make it easier for employers to offer pensions. Further, nearly nine out of ten Americans believe all workers should have a pension plan. 

The survey was conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc. as a nationwide telephone interview of more than 800 Americans age 25 or older to assess their sentiment regarding retirement and actions the new Congress and Administration could take. 

The key findings are as follows:

Widespread Retirement Insecurity

  • 83% of Americans are concerned about current economic conditions affecting their retirement.
  • Seven in ten Americans believe it is harder today to retire.
  • 51% of Americans believe today’s retirement system is worse than the previous system where workers were more likely to have pensions.
  • When asked what a secure retirement means to them, close to half cite simply having enough money to pay bills or meet basic needs.

Pensions Can Reduce Insecurity

  • 65% of workers with a pension are confident it will be there at retirement.
  • Only about half of Americans with 401(k)-type accounts believe they will have enough money to retire.
  • 55% of those without a pension say having a pension would ease their anxiety.
  • 87% believe all workers should have a pension so they can be self-reliant in retirement.

Support for a Government Role

  • Americans view retirement security as a shared responsibility between individuals, employers, and government – 85% agree.
  • Strengthening Social Security is the most important step the new Congress and Administration can take to improve retirement security, according to respondents.
  • Americans also strongly favor tax incentives that would help individuals save for retirement or help employers offer retirement plans.

Policies to Promote Pensions

  • 84% of Americans think government should make it easier for employers to offer pensions.
  • 79% of Americans think it is a good idea for government to sponsor pension plans that small employers or individuals can join.
  • 87% of Americans think it is a good idea to provide tax incentives or other steps to encourage small employers to band together to offer pensions. 

What Americans Want From a Retirement Plan

  • Americans want portability, followed by employer contributions, continuation of benefits for a spouse after death, and a regular check that cannot be outlived.
  • Respondents are less interested in managing investments.
  • Americans want to take individual responsibility/control over their retirement savings and trust themselves most, but they tend to be less interested in managing their investments and often say 401(k) savings are a “gamble.”
  • Americans are divided as to whether retirement plans should allow loans against retirement savings. 

Read the press release here.