Survey Finds 40 Percent of Americans Plan to Delay Retirement

A new survey from Towers Watson found that four out of every 10 American workers are planning to delay retirement later than they were planning two years ago. These workers said they are willing to pay more for greater certainty in their future retirement and health care benefits, and plan to spend less during retirement. The largest percentage of workers planning to delay retirement was “older Americans” and “those in poor health.”

By surveying 9,100 employed Americans from May through June 2010, Towers Watson found that more than two-thirds, or 68 percent, of older workers said they would delay retirement in order to hold on to their health care coverage, while 62 percent blamed the higher cost of healthcare. And another 61 percent of older workers blamed the decline of their 401K’s value.

“The economic crisis has had a deep effect on employees’ attitudes toward retirement and especially on risk,” said David Speier, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson. “Despite the signs that some employees are saving more, spending less and reducing debt as the economy stabilizes, workers continue to have a fear that they won’t be able to afford retirement — and that will have significant implications on companies’ ability to plan their future workforce needs.”

Taking a proactive perspective, 56 percent of respondents are willing to pay higher amounts out of each of their paychecks in order to ensure a guaranteed, comfortable retirement. This percentage is up from 46 percent in 2009. Also, 54 percent of respondents are willing to pay a higher amount to ensure access to healthcare benefits if they were to retire before they were able to receive Medicare.

“Interestingly, not just older employees are wary. Younger workers, who generally are far less risk-averse given their retirement timeline, are also willing to forgo pay and benefits today for guaranteed and predictable benefits when they retire,” said Speier. “This issue becomes critical as employers begin to reevaluate their overall retirement benefit and health care strategies for the future.”

Along with delaying retirement, many respondents reported other financial actions in order to secure a comfortable future. Nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent, reported they were actively paying off their debits, up from only 33 percent in 2009. And more than half of the respondents, 54 percent, said they are cutting back on daily spending and 34 percent reported increasing their monthly savings (up from 19 percent in 2009). Workers age 50 and over reported that they are adopting more conservative saving and investment strategies and 47 percent of respondents say they are comfortable making their own retirement investment decisions.

For more information about the survey, see here.

Written by Kelly Mellott

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