Eighty-three percent of Americans report favorable views of pensions, and 82% say those with pensions are more likely to have a secure retirement, according to a research report, “Pensions and Retirement Security 2013: A Roadmap for Policy Makers,” issued by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS). In addition, 84% of survey respondents say all Americans should have access to a pension to be self-sufficient in retirement.
Support was strong from both men and women (83% and 82%, respectively). Pensions may also play a factor in choosing an employer—if considering a new job, Americans report being nearly twice as likely to pick an employer with a pension than one with a 401(k) plan.
Eighty-seven percent of Americans polled contend that policymakers do not understand how hard it is to save for retirement. Millennials are highly dissatisfied, at 94%. Three-fourths of Americans say a new type of pension plan described in the survey is a good idea. More than 90% would favor a new pension plan that is available to all Americans, is portable from job to job and provides a monthly check throughout retirement for those who contribute.Even though retirement is in the distant future, virtually all Millennials agree that the retirement system is under stress and needs repair (95%), and that lawmakers need to make retirement a higher priority (90%). They also believe that those with pensions will have a more secure retirement (89%) than those without, and 94% say the lack of pensions for Baby Boomers is creating stress for families and the economy. Millennials are especially supportive of a new pension system (84%), with 88% saying they would consider participating.
Nearly three quarters of respondents (73%) support public employee pensions because public employees contribute to their pension from every paycheck. For police and firefighters, 86% of Americans say these employees deserve pensions given their job risks. And for teachers, 72% of Americans indicate pensions are deserved to compensate for low pay.
The survey also found a majority of Americans (85%) continues to report concern about their retirement prospects, with more than half (55%) very concerned. Concern is higher for women than men (90% and 80%, respectively), and concern is high consistently across generational lines.
Eighty-seven percent of respondents say the increasing number of Baby Boomers retiring without pensions and/or inadequate savings is straining families and the economy. Sixty-seven percent say it is a mistake to cut government spending in such a way as to reduce Social Security benefits for current retirees.
The poll described a possible new type of privately run pension plan that would be available to all Americans; portable from job to job; easy for employers to administer while offering professional money management; and that would allow for a regular check that lasts through retirement. These characteristics are similar to a possible proposal by the U.S. Senate called Universal, Secure and Adaptable (USA) Retirement Funds (see “The Retirement Security Crisis and a Plan to Solve It”).The survey was conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates as a nationwide telephone interview of 800 Americans age 25 or older. The report is available here.