Workers Growing More Confident About Retirement Saving

November 17, 2003 ( - The vast majority (83%) of Americans who have tried to set a financial target for retirement say the exercise had a moderate to large impact on moving them closer to their dream of a comfortable retirement.

By comparison, only 61% say that regular saving each month without a set goal has had this kind of impact, according to Manulife USA’s Financial Dreams and Fears of American Workers Study. “These findings parallel Manulife USA’s research with employees who participate in the 401(k) plans we provide services to through our group annuity contract,” said Ralph Vizl, Vice President of Strategy and Research for Group Pensions, Manulife USA.

“Again and again 401(k) participants have told us what a difference setting and working toward a goal makes and how much more confident they feel about retirement after doing this,” Vizl continued. In fact, American workers on the whole have become more optimistic with regard to their financial futures over the past year (See Workers Turn To Employers For Help, Solace ) as shown through how well people feel they are doing in reaching the dream of having a comfortable retirement. Overall, only 67% of American workers now say they are behind schedule or have not started saving for retirement, compared with 75% responding the same in 2002. Further, comfortable retirement has moved up the priority totem pole, with 70% saying it is one of their top two financial dreams, up from 61% in 2002.

Other rays of sunshine were found in an increase in the share of workers surveyed who feel they are doing a good job saving money, with 41% stating they feel excellent or very good, up 8% from 2002. In addition, more than a third (38%) think the economy will get better over the next 12 months, compared to 24% who think it will get worse.

Not surprising then, the confidence has carried over to workers’ opinions about investing, as the survey finds more interest expressed in investing in equities, with 28% growing more comfortable investing in them and only 19% expressing increased comfort investing in more conservative financial products like certificates of deposit. At the same time, the number of financial fears American workers have has dropped to an average of 5.2 financial fears in 2003 out of nine possible, down from 5.6 in 2002.

However, even with two steps forward, there is one step back in that more than half of American workers surveyed still believe they are behind schedule or worse in saving for their retirement and other financial dreams. In fact, one half of all American workers have not tried to calculate how much money they need to have saved by the time they retire, the study found.