Americans are facing a retirement savings crisis. The experts have warned about this for a while now. But do working families themselves recognize the growing crisis? The answer is overwhelmingly “yes” according to a new survey from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS). Released last week, the survey finds that Americans of all political persuasions- Democrats, Republicans, and Independents- acknowledge the difficulty in saving for retirement and wish the government would do more to help.
Three-fourths of Americans say the United States faces a retirement savings crisis. This includes 80 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Republicans, and 75 percent of Independents. Americans also agree that political leaders in Washington, D.C. don’t realize how difficult it is for working families to save for retirement. More than half of Americans support increasing contributions to Social Security as a way to strengthen retirement security. A sizeable majority also support the creation of state-based retirement savings plans, such as Secure Choice plans, and three-fourths say they would participate in such a plan.
Americans remain strongly supportive of defined benefit pensions. More than three-fourths have a favorable view of pensions and nearly two-thirds say pensions provide more retirement security than 401(k)s. They also recognize that public pensions play an important role in recruiting and retaining public employees. In fact, 83 percent of those surveyed say pensions are a good way to recruit public employees. When it comes to specific occupations, 82 percent support pensions for police officers and firefighters and 74 percent support pensions for teachers. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority (79 percent) say all workers, not just state and local workers, should have a pension.
Finally, Millennials are the generation most concerned about saving for retirement, but also the generation willing to save the most. While 72 percent of Millennials are pessimistic about achieving financial security in retirement, more than half of Millennials said they would be willing to save five percent or more of their salary for retirement. Even that number, though, is significantly lower than the 10-15 percent most financial experts say working Americans need to save for retirement.
This survey from NIRS confirms what we’ve known for a while: working families are facing a retirement savings crisis and they want help. They recognize that pensions are a reliable path to a secure retirement and they want more Americans to have access to pensions. They also support pensions for those public employees, including police officers, firefighters, and teachers, who have them. As another presidential campaign cycle begins, perhaps the candidates will take these findings to heart and propose ways to help working families achieve a secure retirement.