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Americans Not Confident About Retiring Comfortably

retire   / Credit: Dreamstime.com

The dream of retiring at 65 may soon be a thing of the past. In a new survey of workers, 37 percent say they believe they will be past 65 before they retire, up from 11 percent who thought so in a 1991 survey. Not only do people think they will retire later in life, very few (14 percent) feel confident they will ever be able to live comfortably after retirement.

The Principal Financial Group, sponsor of the annual survey, attributes the historically low confidence mainly to a decrease in the number of people who are proactive in saving for retirement.  In the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey of 1,003 workers, 66 percent said they or a spouse have saved in some way for retirement, while 58 percent said they are currently saving. Those numbers were down from the respective 2009 totals of 75 percent and 65 percent.

The decreased emphasis on saving was also seen in the limited savings and investments of a majority of workers. In fact, 60 percent of workers reported having less than $25,000 in total household savings and investments, according to the survey.

The survey, which also polled 259 retirees, found that those who saved for retirement tended to be more confident about their futures.

[Retirement Morphs Into 'Rehirement' for Most Americans]

"Especially in an uncertain economy, having a plan and taking action helps Americans focus on what they can control and builds a realistic sense of optimism about the future ," said Greg Burrows, senior vice president of the Principal Financial Group. "Working with a financial professional to set goals, and putting aside as much as possible, helps with short-term needs and paves the way for more security in the long term."

The concern over retirement was accompanied by a finding that 42 percent of workers felt job security was the most pressing issue facing working Americans today.   

Of the retired respondents, half stated they had left the work force unexpectedly due to health problems, disability or corporate closures and downsizing efforts, adding to their feeling of job instability.

The 22nd annual Retirement Confidence Survey was conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan organization, and Mathew Greenwald and Associates.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.