U.S. employees’ confidence in their ability to retire comfortably continued to rebound from post-recession lows last year, notes a new report issued by Towers Watson. But among the Generation X set, concerns still linger.

A Towers Watson survey of multi-age workers found that the percentage of workers who said they were very or somewhat confident about having enough resources to live comfortably 15 years into retirement increased from 62 percent in 2010 to 68 percent last year. Those same workers, however, are less confident about living comfortably throughout retirement. Less than half (47 percent) of respondents said they were very or somewhat confident they will have enough resources to last 25 years into retirement. This compares with 40 percent who said there were very or somewhat confident in 2010.

However, despite growing satisfaction with their financial situation and fewer employees reporting significant declines in retirement savings, many employees remain concerned and are taking steps to get their financial houses in order, notes Towers Watson.

The concern over retirement savings is amplified in a new report issued by The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), “Retirement Readiness of Generation X: An Overview of the Next Generation of Retirement Investors.”

This report explores the retirement preparations of Americans in their 30s and 40s, and looks at their outlook for retirement and the issues that are shaping these expectations. The IRI report found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Generation X (GenXers) lack confidence that they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, to cover medical expenses during retirement and to pay for the cost of their children’s higher education.

The last effects of the economic recession has had an impact on many GenXers’ financial savings, notes the IRI. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of GenXers stopped contributing to their retirement accounts, 15 percent made early withdrawals from their 401(k) plans and more than one-fifth (22 percent) stopped contributing to college savings plans.

“While much of the focus as of late has been on the Baby Boomers who have just begun to enter retirement, 70 million GenXers are following right behind them and must not be overlooked,” said IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford. “The recession impacted their ability to not only save for retirement but also for their children’s education, compounding the financial pressures they will face in the years to come.”

Weatherford hints at the opportunities present for financial advisors, stating that with their guidance, “GenXers can get back on track, build their nest egg and gain confidence in their ability to achieve their retirement goals.”

Unlike the GenXers, the recent improvements in the economy are being felt among multi-age workers. In fact, fewer multi-age workers are experiencing “significant declines” in their pension and retirement savings – 47 percent in 2011 versus 55 percent in 2010 and 60 percent in 2009. Additionally, employee satisfaction with their household finances continued to improve, jumping from 33 percent in 2010 to 41 percent in 2011.

However, despite this good omen, three in five workers (59 percent) in the Towers Watson study remain generally unsatisfied with their financial situation.

“As the economy shows periods of stable ground, employees are slowly beginning to be more optimistic about retirement,” said Kevin Wagner, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson. “However, the financial crisis was jolting to American workers. As a result, many employees are more financially conservative today and have a renewed interest in improving their financial decisions and planning and saving for retirement.”

Indeed, the Towers Watson survey noted after two years of cutting back on daily spending, paying off debt and saving more for retirement, some multi-age respondents plan to take additional measures this year to get their financial houses in order. These steps include further cost cutting and a sharpened focus on retirement security.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Digital Insurance content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access