EBRI Issue Brief

Minority Workers Remain Confident About Retirement, Despite Lagging Preparations and False Expectations

Jun 5, 2007 20  pages


2007 Minority Retirement Confidence Survey—African-American and Hispanic workers are at least as likely as American workers overall to feel confident about their retirement security even though their savings and preparations lag behind, according to findings of the 2007 Minority Retirement Confidence Survey (MRCS). While some differences in preparation can be attributed to differences in income distribution, other findings show that minorities are less prepared even when comparisons are made among workers with similar levels of household income. See five additional MRCS Fact Sheets at the bottom of this page.

Minority retirement savings rates are falling: Less than half of African-American (48 percent, down from 62 percent in 2003) and Hispanic (41 percent, down from 60 percent in 2003) workers say they have saved money for retirement, making them less likely than American workers overall (66 percent) to have saved.

Most minorities with savings have modest amounts: More than half of African-Americans and Hispanics report having less than $10,000 in savings and investments, compared with approximately one-third of all workers.

Most minorities (and most workers overall) do not try to figure out their retirement needs: Roughly one-quarter of African-Americans and Hispanics have tried to calculate how much they need to save for a comfortable retirement—a significant decline from recent years. Among workers overall, less than half (43 percent) say they have tried to do a calculation.

Higher expectations of employer-provided retirement benefits: MRCS results suggest that many African-Americans and Hispanics are counting on employer-provided retirement benefits they may not receive:

--> Pensions: Regardless of income, African-Americans are more likely than workers overall and Hispanics to say a defined benefit pension plan will be a major source of funding for their retirement, even though private-sector pension coverage is declining. More than a third of African-Americans and Hispanics appear to be expecting to receive this benefit from a future employer, compared with less than a quarter of all workers.

--> Retiree health insurance: More than 5 in 10 African-Americans, compared with 4 in 10 of all workers, expect to have access to retiree health insurance through an employer. Like pensions, these benefits are increasingly unlikely to be offered to future retirees.

--> Long-term care: A larger share of African-Americans and Hispanics also think they will have private coverage for long-term care expenses, compared with American workers overall. This is individually paid (not employer-paid) coverage, and very few workers currently choose to buy it.

Yet retirement confidence is high: Minority groups are statistically just as confident as all American workers (around 70 percent) that they will live comfortably throughout their retirement years. However, among those with household income of $25,000 or less, minority workers are considerably more likely than workers overall to feel confident.