According to a survey from The Pew Charitable Trusts, 69% of public employees said they were very or somewhat confident they would have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, compared with 55% of Americans surveyed for the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s (EBRI) 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey. Female public employees were less likely than men to express confidence in their retirement situation: 63% of women said they were very or somewhat confident, compared with 77% of men.
Slightly more than half (54%) of state and local public workers said they expected to retire at age 65 or later. Of this group, 25% said they expect to retire at 65, and 29% said they expect to retire after 65. An additional 4% of respondents volunteered that they do not ever expect to fully retire. These results are similar to findings in the EBRI survey.
State and local employees said retirement plan design affects decisions about when to stop working. Eighty percent said they think some government employees who want to leave their jobs keep working until retirement age so they will not lose retirement benefits, including 60% who said they think this happens a lot. Fifty-six percent said they think some workers retire earlier than they would like in order to maximize retirement benefits, including 31% who think this happens a lot. Overall, 88% of respondents said they think workers either work longer or retire earlier than their preference in order to maximize retirement benefits, including 48% who think both things happen.
Asked to rate the importance of various factors related to a job, 55% of respondents said job security, work-family balance, and health insurance were extremely important. Forty-five percent listed retirement and pension plans as extremely important, and 37% said total annual salary was extremely important.
Fewer younger workers said retirement plans were extremely important. Only 33% of those younger than 30 said retirement plans were extremely important to them, compared with 44% of workers ages 30 to 49 and 51% of those 50 and older.
More than half (55%) of state and local workers said they would prefer a job that offers more generous retirement benefits in exchange for a somewhat lower salary. On the other hand, 41% said they would swap a somewhat higher salary for less-generous retirement benefits.
Thirty-five percent of respondents said their employer’s retirement system needs changes, including 12% who said it needs major changes. Sixty-one percent said they think their employer’s retirement system should be kept as it is. Those with lower confidence in their ability to live comfortably in retirement were more likely to say they would like to see changes. So were women (38%) compared with men (30%).
A large majority of state and local government workers said they were at least somewhat satisfied with their retirement benefits and salary. Eighty-five percent said they were somewhat or very satisfied with the retirement benefits provided by their employer, including 34% who reported being very satisfied. However, one-fifth of state and local workers polled said they did not know what type of retirement plan their employers offer. Women were more likely to say this (23%) compared to men (15%). In addition, workers younger than 50 were more likely to report that they did not know what type of retirement plan they have than were workers 50 or older.
More survey findings and survey methodology can be found here.