Constituting a near-record high, 57 percent of non-retired Americans expect their retirements to be comfortable after having saved enough money to adequately support expenses and lifestyle choices, according to a poll conducted by Gallup in April of this year. This is the highest recorded figure for this expectation from the longstanding polling organization since 2004.
“Results on this measure since the first reading in 2002 have generally risen and fallen based on the performance of key economic indicators, including the stock market, the unemployment rate and the housing market,” says Megan Brenan, a research consultant with Gallup who summarized the findings of the retirement sentiment survey. “The lowest positive point was 38 percent in 2012, but it had been low since 2008 as a result of the Great Recession.”
Since the economic recovery, expectations have rebounded and, as evidenced by these recently-released results, are close to matching the historical 59 percent record seen between 2002-2004.
While this optimism is encouraging and likely tied to other financial matters that Gallup has tracked, including a recently upbeat view of both the nation’s economy and respondents’ personal finances, only 25 percent of Americans who are either employed themselves or have an employed spouse reveal that they are currently saving enough for retirement.
For those still working, Social Security is less likely to factor into their perceptions of what their retirement will look like since a sentiment exists among those of working age that the Social Security program could run out of funds before they reach an eligible retirement age, says Gallup.
One other observable trend, however, is that the younger a respondent is, the more optimistic they are about their prospects for comfort in retirement.
“As has been the case historically, younger adults are more confident than their older counterparts when it comes to non-retirees’ outlooks for a comfortable retirement, presumably because they have more time to save for it,” Brenan says. “The latest results find that 65 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds foresee living comfortably in retirement, compared with 51 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds and 55 percent of those closest to retirement, aged 55 and older.”
The optimism is present in spite of data indicating that the retirement saving habits of working Americans is falling short. Based on data from a subsequent poll conducted later in the month of April, savings activity is “strikingly lacking” according to Brenan.
“These Americans are largely divided in describing their household’s retirement situation, with just 25 percent overall saying they are saving enough for retirement,” Brenan writes. “Half think they should be saving more (27 percent a little more and 23 percent a lot more), while 18 percent do not have any retirement savings and 5 percent do but are not adding to it. In all, this means 46 percent of these adults could be classified as largely unprepared for retirement.”
Find more detailed information on the relevant surveys and their results at Gallup.