More than half of American workers unprepared for retirement

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Fifty-two percent of American workers feel they are behind in their retirement savings goals, according to the recently released "MetLife Retirement Readiness Index: Are Americans Prepared for the Transition?"

One-fourth of respondents said they are significantly behind their savings goals, and 28 percent said they are confident they are on track or have reached their goals, according to the survey results.

Only a third (35 percent) of 45- to 49-year-old respondents feel prepared for retirement, while 64 percent of 60- to 64-year-old respondents and 81 percent of 65- to 70-year-old respondents feel prepared, according to the survey.

Workers with fewer than five years until retirement scored higher on retirement preparedness than those further from retirement. Males are much more likely than females to have thought about whether full-time retirement is financially feasible and how much they are willing to work in retirement. They also are more likely than females to have determined whether their retirement plans are adequate, identified what external factors could affect their retirement, and determined the steps necessary to receive the benefits due them.

More than half (54%) of the respondents formulated ideas about how much they would like to work in retirement, and decided whether to fully retire, or to work part-time in retirement (53%), according to the survey.

“In comparison, far fewer of these respondents have started seeking employment opportunities, whether through coworkers, or by looking for a career suited for their retirement plans,” the survey states. “Three in 10 (31%) of respondents have explored what employment possibilities are available if they want to keep working full- or part-time in retirement.”

Although many respondents have determined whether they want to or need to keep working in retirement, they have yet to take subsequent steps in identifying what options they have. While both tasks refer to planning for work in retirement, there is a difference in the degree of action required for the latter. Clearly, more focus and intent is put into actually exploring work possibilities, rather than simply deciding to work in retirement, according to the survey.

Most people wait until the final few years prior to retirement to make significant decisions, according to the survey findings. Older workers, age 60-64, those within five years of retirement, and retirees have put significant effort into determining what is necessary to receive corporate and government retirement benefits.

Forty-six percent of respondents who are still working said they will delay their planned retirement age. However, of those who have already retired, 64 percent report they retired earlier than expected, while only 33 percent retired when planned. Only 3 percent report they retired later than expected, according to the survey.

The survey also revealed that 46 percent of respondents have considered the importance of relationships with coworkers in making the decision to retire, and 45 percent have considered how various aspects of their retirement might positively or negatively affect their relationships with family and friends.

A total of 1,048 respondents age 45 to 70 completed the online questionnaire using Harris Interactive’s QuickScreeners Service from December 14-18, 2009. Respondents were weighted to be representative of the population. Index scores were calculated using the average rating.

The Retirement Readiness Index and a Retirement Readiness Workbook is available.

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