American Confidence in Retirement Rises

May 14, 2019 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

The Retirement Confidence Survey gauges the views and attitudes of working-age and retired Americans regarding retirement, their preparations for retirement, their confidence with regard to various aspects of retirement, and related issues. The RCS is the longest-running survey of its kind and is conducted annually by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the independent research firm Greenwald & Associates. Here are some results from the 2019 survey. You can find more here.

82% of retirees are confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout retirement, up from 75% last year and comparable to highs measured in 2005 and 2017. Furthermore, the percentage of workers who say they are very confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout retirement reached 23%, up from last year’s 17% and now reflecting levels measured more consistently in the late 1990s and early 2000s, prior to the financial crisis of 2008.

This year, retirees are also much more likely than last year to be confident in their ability to afford the lifestyle they are accustomed to (77% vs. 70%) and having enough money to last their entire life (76% vs. 67%). Eight in ten retirees indicate they are very or somewhat confident they will have enough money to take care of medical expenses, compared with 70% in 2018, and retirees are less likely than last year to say their overall expenses, health care expenses, and long-term care expenses are higher than they expected.

The RCS continues to identify a lack of alignment between workers’ expectations about their age of retirement and prospects for working in retirement, compared with retiree experiences. Workers continue to report an expected median retirement age of 65, while retirees report they retired at a median age of 62. The survey has consistently found that 43% of retirees leave the workforce earlier than planned, with 35% citing illness or disability as the reason and 35% retiring due to changes at their company. In keeping with their income expectations, 80% of workers expect to work for pay in retirement, while only 28% of retirees report that they have actually done this.


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