EBRI Issue Brief

EBRI’s 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey: Confidence Rebounds—for Those With Retirement Plans

Mar 18, 2014 36  pages


  • The percentage of workers confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement, at record lows between 2009 and 2013, increased in 2014. Eighteen percent are now very confident (up from 13 percent in 2013), while 37 percent are somewhat confident. Twenty-four percent are not at all confident (statistically unchanged from 28 percent in 2013).
  • This increased confidence is observed almost exclusively among those with higher household income, but it was also found that confidence was strongly correlated with household participation in a retirement plan (including an individual retirement account (IRA)). Nearly half of workers without a retirement plan were not at all confident about their financial security in retirement, compared with only about 1 in 10 with a plan.
  • Retiree confidence in having a financially secure retirement, which historically tends to exceed worker confidence levels, has also increased, with 28 percent very confident (up from 18 percent in 2013) and 17 percent not at all confident (statistically unchanged from 14 percent in 2013).
  • Fifty-eight percent of workers and 44 percent of retirees report having a problem with their level of debt. Furthermore, 24 percent of workers and 17 percent of retirees indicate that their current level of debt is higher than it was five years ago.
  • Worker confidence in the affordability of various aspects of retirement has also rebounded. In particular, the percentage of workers very confident in their ability to pay for basic expenses has increased (29 percent, up from 25 percent in 2013). In addition, there have been decreases in the percentages of workers reporting they are not at all confident about their ability to pay for medical expenses (24 percent, down from 29 percent in 2013) and long-term care expenses (32 percent, down from 39 percent in 2013).
  • Sixty-four percent of workers report they or their spouse have saved for retirement (statistically equivalent to 66 percent in 2013), although nearly 8 in 10 (79 percent) full-time workers say that they or their spouse have done so. Here again, participation in a retirement plan mattered: 90 percent of workers participating in a retirement plan had saved for retirement, compared with just 1 in 5 of those without a retirement plan.
  • A sizable percentage of workers report they have virtually no savings and investments. Among RCS workers providing this type of information, 36 percent say they have less than $1,000 (up from 28 percent in 2013), although those who indicate they and their spouse do not have a retirement plan (either an IRA, defined contribution, or defined benefit plan) are far more likely than those who have a plan to be in this group (73 percent vs. 11 percent). Moreover, 68 percent with household income of less than $35,000 a year have savings of less than $1,000. Of those who have saved for retirement, only 38 percent report savings of less than $25,000.
  • Cost of living and day-to-day expenses head the list of reasons why workers do not save (or save more) for retirement, with 53 percent of workers citing this factor.