Jul 26, 2023 - News

Retirement feels out of reach for many, including in Washington state

Illustration of a nervous piggy bank with a sweat drop on its face.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Most Americans want to retire, but only half feel like they're able to save for the future, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll.

Why it matters: Many Americans who haven't yet retired say they are unprepared for retirement, unsure how to prepare and unsure if they even want to fully retire, the poll found.

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

Zoom in: Those concerns are mirrored among adults in Washington state, even those who have decades of working years left, Cathy MacCaul, advocacy director at AARP Washington, tells Axios Seattle.

  • A 2020 AARP Washington survey found that two-thirds of registered voters ages 25-64 "were anxious about having enough money to live comfortably in their retirement years," MacCaul said.

By the numbers: According to the nationwide Axios-Ipsos poll, 30% of people still 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.

  • David John, a senior policy adviser at AARP, tells Axios that for roughly half of workers, their employers don't offer retirement plans.

Zoom in: Of Washington-based survey respondents, several said they once thought they had enough money to last through retirement, but recent volatility in the stock market plus high inflation has made them less certain.

  • Paul from Tacoma, who requested that his last name not be used because of the sensitivity of discussing personal finances, said he has been hoping to retire in a few years, when he hits 65.
  • But he was laid off eight months ago, making that goal seem further out of reach, he said.
  • "I did save for a rainy day, but a rainy day came sooner than I thought it would," Paul said.

Another poll respondent, John S., retired last year, but said that his 401(k) took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Now, with inflation rates so high, he's concerned he might have to find a part-time job, or start dipping into savings he hadn't planned on using yet.
  • Like with Paul, Axios agreed to not use John's full name because of the sensitivity of discussing personal finances.

Be smart: MacCaul of AARP Washington said that adults approaching retirement can take advantage of their new ability to make annual "catch up" contributions to their 401(k)s, which can boost savings faster.

  • Younger workers, meanwhile, should ensure they put away money early in their careers, even if the contributions are small.
  • "Putting aside a little bit of money out of each paycheck is really that winning strategy," MacCaul said.
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