No retirement? 44% think the pandemic will force them to work longer

NEW YORK — You don’t need an office job to start saving for retirement, but a whopping nine in 10 industrial workers still think they do. A recent survey of 2,000 Americans, half between the ages of 18 and 29 and half between 30 and 64, looked at how these groups plan for retirement across various fields of employment.

Workers at micro-sized companies (between two and nine employees) were most intent on retiring in their 50s (32%) — but 24 percent of this group say their current employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan. Overall, nearly half of all respondents (47%) think you can be “too old” to start saving for retirement.

Conducted on behalf of retirement benefits provider Human Interest, the survey also looked at some of the frequent reasons people think they won’t be able to retire.

What retirement plan?

Among all the reasons employees noted as keeping them from working at their desired level, pandemic-related stress tops the list (44%), with finance workers being the most likely to cite it as a barrier to reaching retirement (57%). Meanwhile, 40 percent of workers​​ think they won’t have enough money to last the rest of their life, particularly healthcare workers (61%).

Similarly, 47 percent of education professionals think they’ll burn out before reaching retirement, while HR workers are more worried about potential job loss standing in their way (47%). While half of all respondents in the OnePoll study turn to their savings or checking accounts to save for retirement, preferences differed across industries and company sizes.

People working at enterprise companies (1000+ employees) are most likely to use a 401(k) (52%), 29 percent greater than those at small businesses (10–50 employees). Those at mid-sized businesses (51–249 workers) favor real estate (53%), and crypto is now a popular choice among those at small organizations with a staff of 10 to 50 (44%).

Money over job satisfaction

To ensure they hit their retirement age, 37 percent would exchange a job they liked for a better-paying one they liked less, and 32 percent would change jobs to one with a better 401(k). Respondents between 30 and 64 are more likely than those ages 18–29 to say they’d change jobs for a better 401(k) (36% vs. 28%).

“The pandemic took a different toll across industries, adding to existing sector-specific challenges when it comes to retirement savings,” says Eric Phillips, Senior Director, Partnerships & Strategic Insights at Human Interest, in a statement. “Whether you work at an office desk or at a factory, you shouldn’t have to be well-versed in all aspects of finance to plan for your future.”

Forty-four percent of all respondents are using their company’s retirement savings plan, with people ages 30–64 more likely than those 18–29 to do so (48% vs. 39%). Those working in finance and insurance rely on their company’s retirement plan more than other industries (54%), while construction workers are least likely to use their company’s plan (38%). Three in four employed respondents (73%) wish their employer-provided better 401(k) guidance and education.

“Our results showed that 70 percent think they’d have a better 401(k) with an office job, suggesting some employers may be unaware of how to improve the retirement plans they offer,” Phillips adds.

“There are affordable options for companies of any size to automate their 401(k) processes and take some of the guesswork out of saving for retirement for both themselves and their employees. In fact, when given access to a 401(k), our 2020 in-house study found that employees working in manufacturing and other underserved industries are nearly as likely to use their 401(k).”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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