Survey finds Americans nervous about retirement

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The Business Review (Albany)

An increasing number of Americans are concerned that the current economic crisis will leave them further behind on their retirement plans, according to a new survey.

The 2008 Bank of America Retirement Savings Survey, which polled approximately 1,000 people across the country, found that 60 percent of Americans are spending less than they were three months ago as a result of the current economic climate. But even with this decreased spending, 51 percent of the general public and 40 percent of those categorized as “affluent” also are saving less, with approximately one in five citing that they’re saving “much less.”

Craig Averill, personal retirement solutions executive for Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), said the survey findings “underscore how deeply troubled Americans are about their retirement savings and financial well-being.” Nearly one-quarter of those surveyed named “the impact of economic turbulence on retirement savings” as the financial issue that concerned them most.

“Today’s economic conditions are clearly having a significant impact on Americans’ near-term financial behavior, causing many to be, or to believe they are, in a less secure position to work toward their long-term retirement goals,” Averill said “Based on this survey, it appears that many Americans are not fully able to save what is needed to retire as they had planned, and some are tapping into their nest eggs to meet more immediate financial needs.”

Eighteen percent of those surveyed said they had withdrawn retirement account assets prematurely. The leading reasons for the withdrawals were near-term financial obligations, such as credit card debt and mortgage payments, with 22 percent citing a recent job loss.

When Bank of America polled people in March, 53 percent of the general public said they were behind in their retirement planning or had not started at all. This time, 62 percent had that response.

The survey was conducted for Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America by Braun Research, which used random-digit dialing methodology to reach 1,000 people between the dates of Nov. 5 and Nov. 12. Of those 1,000 people, 750 were considered “representative Americans” and 250 were labeled as “affluent,” meaning they had investable assets between $100,000 and $3 million.


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