A realistic assessment. Although most Americans are feeling considerably more pessimistic about their retirement prospects than before the recession, this may also be the first time workers without traditional pensions are realistically assessing whether their current savings rate will fund a comfortable retirement. "There was a tremendous amount of false optimism," says VanDerhei. "After the 2008 and 2009 market crisis … they then realized that they were not on track and their confidence went down. There is less false optimism in 2011 and 2012 than there had been in prior years."
There's still time for many baby boomers to correct their retirement preparedness, but it is likely to take a considerable amount of diligent saving and continued employment. "Workers are falling farther behind and they know it," says Greenwald. "To some extent, a lack of confidence is good because no confidence is better than false confidence if it leads to action."