Poll: More Than Half of Workers Have $10,000 or Less for Retirement

January 28, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - More than half of working adults have either not begun saving or have socked away less than $10,000 for retirement, according to a new poll.

The nationwide Thrivent Financial survey found that 36% haven’t yet started their retirement savings while another 16% have less than $10,000 put away. In addition, more than six in 10 Americans (62%) have never estimated how much money they will need for retirement.

“With seven of 10 either not saving or saving less than $50,000, Americans are simply not accumulating sufficient assets to adequately meet long-term retirement needs,” asserted Pam Moret, executive vice president for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. “Clearly, too many Americans are operating in the dark when it comes to meeting their future retirement needs. This survey is one more wake-up call to all Americans to get serious about planning for their futures.”

When asked how much they’ve set aside for retirement:

  • 17% of non-retired Americans have saved $10,000 to $49,999
  • 9% have saved $50,000 to $99,999
  • 6% have saved $100,000 to $249,999
  • 2% have saved $250,000 to $499,999
  • 1% have saved $500,000 to $999,999
  • 1% saved $1 million or more.

Twelve percent of respondents are not sure or declined to answer.

Not surprisingly, how much a person earned played a part in the size of their retirement nest egg, the survey found. Just 26% of people with incomes of less than $20,000 say they have started saving for retirement. This compares with 48% of those earning $20,000 to $34,999, 69% of those generating $35,000 to $49,999, 87% of those pulling in $50,000 to $74,999, and 84% of those with incomes of $75,000 or more.

Not only that, but where a person lives plays a part in their likelihood of saving for retirement. While 68% of suburban residents have started saving for retirement, 62% of urban residents and 51% of rural residents have done so.

“Retirement planning is not the exclusive territory of the well-to-do,” said Moret. “On the contrary, retirement planning is a greater need among Americans with more modest incomes. Savers who steadily and methodically set aside even modest dollars for retirement will be winners in their golden years.”

Likewise not surprisingly, Americans are likely to begin saving for retirement as young adults. Twenty-four percent of working Americans said they first began saving for retirement at ages 18 to 25, 16% at ages 26 to 30, 9% at ages 31 to 35, 6% at ages 36 to 40, and 7% at ages 41 or older.

Non-savers were quick with their reasons, according to the poll. Some 54% of non-savers say they do not have enough money to start saving while 21% say it is too soon to start. Seventeen percent say they have not gotten around to it yet, while 3% did not think they needed to save for retirement.

Telephone interviews were conducted for Thrivent Financial by Harris Interactive between November 20 and December. 4, 2003 among a 1,000 US adults aged 18 and older.

For more information, go to www.thrivent.com .