EBRI Issue Brief

EBRI 2001 Retirement Surveys: Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), Minority RCS, and Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS)

Jun 1, 2001 32  pages


The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) regularly samples both public and employer attitudes on retirement issues. This year marks the 11th annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), and the fourth annual Minority RCS and Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS).

Key 2001 RCS findings include:

  • The percentage of respondents saying they have personally saved for retirement decreased in the past year, from 75 percent in 2000 to 71 percent in 2001. When asked more detailed questions about the retirement planning process before being asked whether they have saved for retirement, the proportion decreases further to two-thirds of all workers (65 percent).
  • The percentage of respondents who say they have tried to calculate how much money they need for retirement in order to live comfortably dropped from 51 percent in 2000 to 46 percent in 2001. When respondents were made aware of the components of a retirement needs calculation, the number decreased further to 39 percent.
  • The percentage of today's workers who feel confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement decreased from 72 percent in 2000 to 63 percent in 2001. At the same time, the percentage of workers who are not at all confident in having enough money for retirement nearly doubled (10 percent in 2000; 17 percent in 2001).
  • Contrary to the downward trend in retirement confidence, worker confidence in Social Security and Medicare has continued to increase steadily from the lows measured in 1995, although the majority of workers continue to remain not confident.
  • Hispanic-Americans tend to be the least confident among the surveyed minority groups that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years.

Key 2001 SERS findings include:

  • While cost and administration-related issues play a role in why small employers do not offer retirement plans, they are not the main reasons. Employee-related reasons are most often cited as the most important factor for not offering a retirement plan. Business-related reasons, such as profitability or a business that is too new, are also cited as major decision-drivers.
  • Many retirement plan nonsponsors are unaware or unfamiliar with the plan options and incentives available to them as potential plans sponsors. Some small employers may be making a premature decision not to sponsor a plan based on incomplete information.

This year marks the 11th anniversary of the Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), and the fourth anniversary of the Minority RCS and Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS). A clear message that permeates the findings of these surveys is the need for financial education and information.