Older Workers Show More Retirement Anxiety

December 5, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) The proportion of all workers expecting to delay their retirement date is 44%, according to the 2012 Mercer Workplace Survey.

Only 53% believe they will be ready to retire financially, down two percentage points from last year.   

Fifty-nine percent of older workers are considering delaying retirement, up from 55% in 2011, while those younger than age 50 considering delayed retirement remained flat at 37%. Sixty-two percent of those age 50 and older believe they will have to work at least part time in retirement compared to 48% of younger workers.  

Participants this year are expecting to increase their 401(k) contributions yet again.For all workers, the mean expected contribution is up about 7%, to slightly less than $8,000.For participants age 50 and older, however, the expected increase is 19%, to more than $8,200. The proportion of workers 50 or older expecting to max their 401(k) contribution in the year ahead nearly doubled (to 13%) even as the comparable share of younger workers remained essentially flat (also at 13%).  

Among all workers, the proportion of current income they are targeting to replace in retirement (78%) is six points lower than last year and is only the second time since 2006 that participants’ targeted replacement ratio has dipped below 80%.

The survey also found a decline to historic norms in the proportion of workers borrowing against or cashing out some or all of their balance, coupled with an increase to an all-time high in the share of participants saving for retirement in vehicles other than their 401(k)s.    

Adviser Use Increases Confidence  

Professional financial adviser use among participants is at an all-time high—36% of workers now use a paid adviser, up five points from last year. Yet the proportion of all participants (both those with and without current access to in-plan advice) who would be willing to pay a fee for advice offered through their plan is down seven points, to 30%.   

Nearly one-fifth (18%) of respondents say they engage in online or in-person advice within their 401(k). Those who do are much more likely to feel they have enough money for retirement (49% versus 35%), expect to live as well or better as when working (40% versus 29%) and believe they will not have to delay retirement (34% versus 44%). 

Regarding other benefits, only 36% of respondents agreed that their health benefits are definitely worth what they pay out of pocket, the lowest level since 2008. Although 75% say that understanding the features and choices in their health plan is very or somewhat easy, this is down from 83% in 2011. 

Online interviews were completed with 1,656 participants between June 6 and June 21, 2012. An executive summary of the survey can be downloaded from www.mercer.com/2012-mws-summary. Mercer has also created an infographic derived from the survey that can be viewed at http://mthink.mercer.com/economic-expectations/.