Most Baby Boomers Plan to Delay Retirement

Investors are increasingly skeptical about their ability to save enough to retire.

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American workers are increasingly planning to delay retirement. Among employed adults ages 50 to 61, 60 percent say they may have to delay their retirement because of the recession, according to a Pew Research Center telephone survey of 2,967 adults released today. And 35 percent of those age 62 and older say they’ve already pushed back their retirement date.

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Although the stock market has significantly recovered from its Match 2009 bottom, retirement saver’s faith in stock market gains has not rebounded as swiftly. Some 32 percent of adults now say they are not confident they will have sufficient income and assets for retirement, up from 25 percent in February 2009. Financial uncertainty is greater among younger and middle aged adults than among older adults.

It hasn’t helped that many savers have raided their retirement accounts to pay for current expenses. Some 41 percent of adults who have a savings, 401(k), or other type of retirement account have taken at least one withdrawal to pay bills. And 19 percent have sold stocks, bonds, or mutual funds to meet their current expenses. Many Americans have also cut back on household spending (62 percent) and reduced the amount they owe on mortgages, credit cards, car loans, and other borrowing (50 percent).

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Some retirement savers have also recently altered how their nest egg is invested, typically by shifting money into safer investments. Among the 88 percent of Americans with investment holdings, bank accounts, or retirement accounts, more than half (57 percent) say they have changed the way they are investing or saving since the recession began. The majority of those who altered their strategy (74 percent) shifted their savings into more cautious investments. Only 14 percent of Americans say they have become more aggressive investors since the recession began. Younger adults were especially likely to invest aggressively, while older adults generally dialed back their risk. Just over a quarter of adults between ages 18 and 29 have become more aggressive investors, compared with less than 15 percent of middle-aged or older adults.

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Baby boomers on the verge of retirement feel the least confident about their ability to retire. Over a third (37 percent) of adults between ages 50 and 64 don’t feel confident that they have enough retirement savings. Unemployed adults are especially unlikely to believe they will have the resources to support themselves in retirement. Barely half (49 percent) of unemployed people feel confident they will be able to live off the proceeds of their nest egg, compared with 64 percent of employed adults.