Financial Security in Retirement: A Bipartisan Concern
Much has been said over the sharp partisan divides in our country. But there are some transcendent matters that bridge the gorge and unite us in a common purpose. And one of them, a recent study finds, is concern over financial security in retirement.
In the biennial study “Retirement Security 2017: Americans’ Views of the Retirement Crisis
,” the National Institute on Retirement (NIRS) reports broad and shared concern over the ability to achieve a financially secure retirement. Like the needs that must be met in retirement, concern over meeting them among the 800 Americans Greenwald & Associates polled knows no party.
It is remarkably bipartisan.
- Is there a retirement crisis? The answer is “yes” to 92% for Democrats and 86% of Republicans.
- Are you concerned over whether you will be able to save enough to cover your expenses during retirement? Yes, say 78% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans.
Deep and Broad
- Do you support state efforts to help individuals prepare financially for retirement? A nod of agreement from 83% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans.
Belief that there is a retirement crisis is so deep and broad that it not only is it impervious to political stripe, it also cuts across gender, income level and generation. It is the view of:
- 91% of women and 84% of men;
- at least 84% of all income levels, including those earning more than $75,000; and
- more than 80% of every generation: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials.
And their concern colors what they see in the crystal ball. A strong majority — 78% — see themselves staying in their current job as long as possible. Almost as many plan to cut their expenses after they retire, and just over half expect to work in some kind of job after retiring.
Confidence in the System
Despite misgivings about the future, that does not spell lack of belief in being prepared and the accounts that can help one to be so. There is overwhelming belief in the value of pensions and agreement that pensions are a good thing. Among those polled:
- 85% believe all workers should have access to a pension plan;
- 82% view pensions favorably;
- 77% say it is harder to achieve the American Dream since pensions have declined in number;
- 71% consider pensions more helpful in achieving a secure retirement than 401(k)s; and
- 65% consider pensions safer than 401(k)s.
Strong majorities also endorse Social Security. In the 2015 study, 73% said that federal budgetary discipline should not come at the expense of Social Security benefits for current retirees, and that stance is growing: 76% held it in the recent study. And they want the same for retirees yet to come: 73% said they are against budget cuts that would have such an effect in the future.
They also want public sector workers to not pay the price for budget economy: 90% say they strongly support pensions for firefighters and police officers, and 81% feel that way about teachers.
What to Do
Retirees need to know more about managing investments, say respondents. A strong majority say so: 87%, and almost half hold that view strongly.
A mix of skepticism of the government and yet desire for its involvement is equally universal. Eighty-five percent of the respondents say that the federal government does not grasp how hard it is to prepare for retirement. But they want them to get it and do something: 86% want the federal government to make it a higher priority to make sure Americans have a secure retirement, and 82% say the government should make it easier for employers to make pensions available.
NIRS Executive Director Diane Oakley said in a press release, “If the new Congress and administration are serious about addressing Americans’ economic anxiety, a bold first step would be to make a long-term fix to private sector pension funding rules and to strengthen Social Security. Our poll finds that 77 percent of Americans say that the disappearance of pensions is killing the American dream, and they are strongly opposed to cutting Social Security for current and future retirees.”