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Americans Are Starting to Feel Optimistic About Retirement Again: Survey

Financial news in recent years might have seemed like a perpetual cycle of doom and gloom, brought on by surging inflation and the cost-of-living crisis accompanying it. But now, Americans are starting to regain confidence in their prospects for the future.

Results from a new retirement survey indicates that a majority of American workers and retirees believe they will have the money to fund a comfortable retirement. Driving this positivity are the dual factors of careful planning by workers and belief in the future of Social Security.

Optimism reigns thanks to savings plans, safety nets

The Employee Benefit Research Institute published the 2024 edition of its annual Retirement Confidence Survey in conjunction with Greenwald Research on Thursday. The findings were based on a poll of roughly 2,500 people, half of them workers and half of them retirees.

In the report, nearly 68% workers and 74% of retirees express confidence in having enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement. These figures are a slight improvement over last year's results, which saw a marked decline in both worker and retiree confidence from 2022; last year, only 64% of workers and 73% of retirees said they were confident in their ability to sustain themselves in retirement.

What's changed? The EBRI cites wage growth as one element. After runaway inflation in 2022, last year saw wage growth outpacing the growth of inflation once again. About 3 in 10 workers and retirees alike now say they feel confident because of their income and asset stability.

However, inflation remains a top concern for those not feeling secure about affording a comfortable retirement. Three in 10 unconfident workers and 4 in 10 unconfident retirees express concern that inflation will affect their retirement.

The second-largest worry for these workers and retirees is a lack of retirement savings. On a positive note, though, calculating those savings has proven to be a catalyst for saving more: Half of Americans surveyed say they've done the math on how much money they need for retirement, and 52% of workers and 44% of retirees say they started to save more in reaction to what they found. What's more, over half of all workers say they plan to work for pay in retirement, easing themselves in gradually.

Another key finding of the report is Americans' continued optimism that Social Security and other government safety nets will remain intact in the foreseeable future, playing a big role in maintaining their lifestyle through retirement.

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