WASHINGTON -- Even though more Americans seem to be saving for retirement, only 27% of U.S. workers have any idea of how much money they will need to to retire when and how they wish, according to the 1997 Retirement Confidence Survey.
The survey, released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the American Savings Education Council and Mathew Greenwald & Associates, found only 36% of American workers have even tried to determine how much they might need to save by the time retirement comes.
Other findings include:
* Approximately two-thirds of workers would like to retire before age 65, but, in reality, 72% of workers plan to work after retirement, a seven percentage point increase from the 1996 survey.
* About 61% of respondents younger than 33 expect some form of personal savings to be their most important source of retirement income, compared with 42% of respondents older than 53. Thirty-two percent of those between 45 and 52 expect employer-funded retirement benefits to be their most important source of retirement funds.
* Working women are less confident than working men about retirement. While 32% of men indicated they were confident of having enough money for a comfortable retirement, only 18% of women felt the same.
* Investment education seems to help improve saving practices. Of those participating in an employer-based retirement plan, 86% said they use employer-provided educational materials or attend employer-sponsored seminars. In addition, 45% report the information/seminars led them to begin contributing to the plan, 49% reported it led them to change asset allocations and 38% said they changed the amount they were contributing to their plan.
Despite the fact that most workers have never attempted to determine how much money they will need to retire comfortably, the survey indicates that the number of people saving for retirement has increased gradually to 69% this year, up from 61% in 1994.
"We know from our survey that many Americans are intimidated by retirement planning," said Don Blandin, ASEC president.
The workers who have not tried to calculate how much they will need "gave as a reason that they are afraid of the answer; 20% said the process is too complicated, and 39% said they can't find the time."
The workers who haven't attempted to calculate their retirement finances "are headed for a train wreck in slow motion," said Mr. Blandin.
Mr. Blandin said the survey "tells us we have a long way to go before we get people comfortable with how to use the tremendous amount of resources available to them."
He said that workers "need to feel comfortable with the system and become familiar with the consequences of inaction .*.*. You are running around without a financial seatbelt on and are headed for financial disaster."