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Few Americans Are Confident In Their Ability To Retire: Study

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Only 14 percent of Americans are confident about their ability to retire comfortably, according to a study released in March by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Only 14 percent of Americans are confident about their ability to retire comfortably, according to a study released in March by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

For most Americans, retirement is more fantasy than reality.

Just 14 percent of Americans say they are very confident in their ability to retire comfortably. That's near the record low of 13 percent in 2009 and 2011, according to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute released in March.

Many Americans are too busy paying off their debt to consider saving for retirement. Nearly two-thirds of workers say their current debt levels are a problem, according to the study.

Most workers also have not saved very much for retirement. The study found that 60 percent of workers have less than $25,000 stored in savings and investments, less than half the median annual household income. Thirty percent of workers have saved less than $1,000 for retirement. Just one in three workers' households have a defined benefit plan with their employer, according to the study.

Even some Baby Boomers that were diligent about saving for retirement have seen much of their savings wiped out by the stock market crash in 2008. Chris and Ray Stokes, who are 65 and 67, respectively, thought that they were going to retire in 2010 but now are working for their daughter and have started their own scanning business, according to the Idaho Statesman.

More seniors are now using their golden years to work in completely different professions from where they have experience in order to make ends meet, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. 38 percent of men between the ages of 62 and 74 are now working: a 39 percent increase from 1993, according to the Urban Institute.

Minority households are even more likely to have trouble retiring comfortably. Black households' median wealth was $2,200 in 2009: one-fiftieth white households' median wealth, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The percentage of African-American savers taking hardship withdrawals from their company retirement accounts rose 40 percent between 2007 and 2010 to 8.8 percent, and more than half of all Hispanic and African-American savers that lost their jobs cashed out their retirement accounts, according to a recent report from Ariel Investments and Aon Hewitt.

In response to growing concerns that people will run out of money in retirement, the Treasury Department wants to make it easier for people to buy longevity insurance, which provides a fixed annuity during retirement, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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