Aug 23, 2023 - News

Retirement feels out of reach for many Utahns

Share who say they <span style="color: white; background-color:#A283FF; padding: 0px 4px; display: inline-block; margin: 5px 0px 0px; white-space: nowrap; border-radius: 5px">agree</span> or <span style="color: white; background-color:#FCB05F; padding: 0px 4px; display: inline-block; margin: 5px 0px 0px; white-space: nowrap; border-radius: 5px">disagree</span> with the following statements
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

Most Americans want to retire, but only half feel they can save for the future.

The big picture: Many Americans who haven't yet retired say they're unprepared for retirement, unsure how to and uncertain whether they even want to retire fully, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll.

  • One in 5 say they don't think they'll ever retire.
  • Just 36% of those ages 55 and older — nearing typical retirement age — say they'll be able to do so at the time they expected.

By the numbers: 30% of people in the workforce plan to use a pension to help fund their future retirement, compared with 54% of retirees who say they're using pension money.

  • On top of that, "roughly half the workforce, we're talking 50 plus million people, work for an employer that doesn't offer a retirement plan," David John, a senior policy advisor at AARP, tells Axios. That could mean a small business or gig work.

What they're saying: John Stromness, age 72, of Salt Lake City, who previously worked as a pharmacist and served in the U.S. Air Force, said he began setting aside 20% of his income for retirement in his mid-30s.

  • "I was pretty lucky as far as my pensions go because I got a pension from the military and one from civil service, and then I also got Social Security," Stromness, who retired in 2020, told Axios. "Financially, I was pretty secure in that regard."

High school teacher Kelley F., age 63, of Spanish Fork, who asked Axios not to use her full last name, said she plans to retire in four to seven years.

  • Kelley said she and her husband, who is retired and working a part-time job, will have "a little bit" from their 401(k) and Social Security benefits to live on.
  • "After I retire, we plan on selling our house and downsizing," she said.

Gerald Leonard, age 83, of Salt Lake City, who retired in 2006, said he could rely on his pension and Social Security benefits for income.

  • He still works about 25 hours per week between two part-time jobs as a pitch clock operator for the Salt Lake Bees and an usher supervisor for Salt Lake County Arts & Culture "just for enjoyment."

Zoom in: While Americans say retirement is on their minds, they're unlikely to talk about it with others.

  • 60% say they consider how they might be able to afford retirement often or sometimes, but 41% have never discussed saving for retirement with friends, and 57% have never spoken about it with a financial planner.

The bottom line: Retirement may seem out of reach, but it remains a goal for most Americans, and those who have retired say they're content. Meanwhile, 68% of retirees agree they feel better than ever now that they've retired.

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