Survey: Nearly One-Third of Middle Class Americans Could Retire Impoverished
More than one-third of middle class Americans could end up at or near poverty in retirement, according to a new Wells Fargo Retirement Survey.
A survey of 1,000 middle class Americans, conducted by Harris Interactive from July 9-Sept. 4, found that 52% of middle class Americans believe their most important day-to-day financial concern is paying the monthly bills, up from 37% a year ago. Savings for retirement comes in second with 16% of respondents saying it was a key concern.
More than half (53%) of those surveyed said they are not confident they will have saved enough for the life they want in retirement, up from 42% in 2011.
Thirty percent of those surveyed said they will need to work until they are 80 to live comfortably in retirement, up from 25% a year ago. Yet, 73% of Americans say their employer would not want them to work in their 80s. Seventy percent said they will try to work in retirement, with 39% saying they’ll work out of financial necessity.
Thirty-four percent of middle class Americans estimate their retirement income will consist of 50% or less of their current annual income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income for Americans in 2011 was $50,054. Americans say they need less than half of their pre-retirement income and this translates to $25,000, close to the poverty line for a family of four.
“It is so tough for Americans to save for retirement, and we feel it is very important to keep shining the light on this issue. People say they’ll work longer, but how possible will this be for millions of Americans? Preparing for retirement can’t be kicked down the road because the other picture that is emerging is how many people will live very close to the poverty line in retirement. We’ve got to marshal our resources as a country, an industry and as individuals to deal with the issues creating this cliff,” said Joe Ready, director of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust.
When asked where their retirement savings would come from, they came up with the breakdown of 50% from the individual through saving and investment, 27% from the employer through a pension and 24% from Social Security.
“People tell us that retirement preparation should be on their shoulders but they are grappling with the financial pressures of each day. As a result, retirement has become a guessing game. But, people can’t afford to approach twenty plus years of their life by ignoring the facts. People are telling us that times are tough financially – even more so than a year ago – but people also need to take action,” said Laurie Nordquist, director of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust.
Nearly three-quarters of middle class Americans said they are not confident investing in the stock market for their retirement and 75% described their calculations for retirement as a guess. Twenty-two percent described their planning efforts as detailed and based on calculations.
The survey also found that middle class Americans have different priorities, putting home improvements and vacations before saving for retirement. Only 36% of those surveyed had a written retirement plan, up from 30% in 2011.
Health care will also be a problem in retirement, with most Americans believing they will only need about $47,000 in out-of-pocket health care costs when they retire. The Center for Retirement Research has estimated a typical couple at age 65 can expect to spend $260,000 or more over their remaining lifetime.
Wells Fargo & Company is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.4 trillion in assets.
This article was originally posted at BenefitsPro.com, a sister site of Credit Union Times.