Despite Better Savings, Nurses Lack Retirement Confidence

December 17, 2013 ( - As the U.S. economy has continued to improve, so have nurses’ retirement savings.

One-quarter (26%) of nurses with a workplace retirement savings plan have now accumulated more than $100,000 in assets, up from 18% in 2011, according to Fidelity Investments’ third “Nurses Retirement Study.”

However, for those participating in their workplace plans, savings rates are still less than optimal, especially among younger generations. Nearly two-thirds of nurses (62%) acknowledge they are not saving enough for retirement. Generation Y (born 1979 to 1995) and Generation X (born 1965 to 1978) nurses are saving a median of 5% and 6%, respectively. However, Boomer nurses (born 1946 to 1964) are on a better track, saving nearly twice as much as their colleagues at 10%.

Given their shortfall in savings rates, Gen X nurses (55%) and Gen Y nurses (48%) are not confident they will have enough money to retire, compared to 35% of Boomers. Furthermore, 76% of Gen X nurses are concerned they will never be able to retire, compared to 53% of Boomers.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Increased mergers and acquisitions (M&A) lead to diminished optimism: Increasingly in the last decade, large health care organizations have acquired smaller institutions, and 42% of the nurses surveyed experienced a consolidation in the past three years, up from 29% in 2011. Of nurses who have been through a consolidation, 37% report that the merger has negatively impacted morale, and one-third (33%) report there is more stress on the job.
  • Decreased access to defined benefit plans: Just as reliance on Social Security decreased, so has access to defined benefit (DB) plans. Thirty-nine percent of nurses report having a DB plan—down from 48% in 2011. Among Boomer nurses, 44% have access to a DB plan.
  • Younger nurses are less reliant on Social Security: Only 19% of nurses expect Social Security to be their primary source of retirement income, and the expectation is even lower among younger generations: 8% for Gen Y and 16% for Gen X. Given these attitudes, workplace retirement savings plans are increasingly critical, with 43% of all nurses reporting these savings will be their primary source of retirement income.


More than half of nurses (53%) indicated they feel overwhelmed by retirement planning, and 79% want more help. For help with retirement planning, nurses rely on their workplace retirement plan providers, and find the following most helpful: in-person meetings (56%), mailed materials (42%), and telephone consultations (34%).

Versta Research, an independent research firm, conducted the online study on behalf of Fidelity Investments from August 5 to 18. The survey included a national sample of 536 practicing nurses.