The 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey: Confidence Stabilizing, But Preparations Continue to Erode

March 2010
EBRI Issue Brief #340
Paperback, 44 pp.
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2010

Executive Summary

20TH ANNUAL RCS: The 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey—the 20th annual wave of this survey—finds that the record-low confidence levels measured during the past two years of economic decline appear to have bottomed out. The percentage of workers very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement has stabilized at 16 percent, which is statistically equivalent to the 20-year low of 13 percent measured in 2009 (Fig. 1, pg. 7). Retiree confidence about having a financially secure retirement has also stabilized, with 19 percent saying now they are very confident (statistically equivalent to the 20 percent measured in 2009) (Fig. 2, pg. 8).

Worker confidence about paying for basic expenses in retirement has rebounded slightly, with 29 percent now saying they are very confident about having enough money to pay for basic expenses during retirement (up from 25 percent in 2009, but still down from 34 percent in 2008) (Fig. 3, pg. 9).

PREPARATIONS STILL ERODING: Fewer workers report that they and/or their spouse have saved for retirement (69 percent, down from 75 percent in 2009 but statistically equivalent to 72 percent in 2008) (Fig. 11, page 14). Moreover, fewer workers say that they and/or their spouse are currently saving for retirement (60 percent, down from 65 percent in 2009 but statistically equivalent to percentages measured in other years) (Fig. 13, pg. 15).

MORE PEOPLE HAVE NO SAVINGS AT ALL: An increased percentage of workers report they have virtually no savings and investments. Among RCS workers providing this type of information, 27 percent say they have less than $1,000 in savings (up from 20 percent in 2009). In total, more than half of workers (54 percent) report that the total value of their household’s savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home and any defined benefit plans, is less than $25,000 (Fig. 14, pg. 16).

CLUELESS ABOUT SAVINGS GOALS: Many workers continue to be unaware of how much they need to save for retirement. Less than half of workers (46 percent) report they and/or their spouse have tried to calculate how much money they will need to have saved for a comfortable retirement by the time they retire (Fig. 23, pg. 22).

AMERICANS EXPECTING TO WORK LONGER: Although the age at which workers report they expect to retire shows little change from 2009, a longer-term look finds significant change. In particular, the percentage of workers who expect to retire after age 65 has increased over time, from 11 percent in 1991 to 14 percent in 1995, 19 percent in 2000, 24 percent in 2005, and 33 percent in 2010 (Fig. 29, pg. 28).

INSTITUTIONAL CONFIDENCE LAGGING: Americans continue to lack confidence in institutions. Just 19 percent of workers and 22 percent of retirees report they are very confident about banks, while 12 percent of workers and 13 per-cent of retirees say they are very confident about insurance companies (Fig. 19, pg. 19). They are most likely to express confidence in private employers (23 percent of workers and 27 percent of retirees very confident) and least likely to feel confidence in the federal government (11 percent of workers and 8 percent of retirees) (Fig. 20, pg. 20).

Related Links

RCS Fact Sheets
Six related 2010 Fact Sheets