A majority of state and local government workers are not certain if they have enough money set aside for their retirement, according to a new study.
The study, by ING, found that 61 percent of the government employees surveyed said they were unsure or uncomfortable about their ability to set aside enough for retirement. Forty-three percent have become less confident about their savings since the market downturn. Yet 72 percent of those surveyed have not changed the amount they are investing to address these concerns.
The study, conducted in conjunction with the market research firm Synovate polled more than 1,000 Americans holding government jobs across the country. The goal was to learn more about their views and attitudes on a number of personal and financial topics, including planning and preparing for retirement. The respondents full-time workers between 20 and 70 years of age represented a cross-section of the more than 8 million men and women employed by state and municipal entities.
"It's clear that the burden of retirement planning has been increasing for all workers today-- even the millions of government employees who have long relied on pensions as their main source of retirement income," said Bill Jasien, head of government markets for ING U.S. Retirement Services. "As more government entities scale back on their pension programs to offset tight budgets and increased financial obligations, workers in this sector will need to better understand and leverage the savings opportunities offered by their employer's defined contribution plans."
The study found that government employees, on the whole, appear to be a conservative group. An overwhelming majority (74 percent) considered themselves risk-averse in their personal lives. This carried over to their investment philosophy, where half(50 percent) said they were financially conservative, preferring to protect their savings rather than assume the greater risk that comes with potentially higher investment growth.
Most respondents (71 percent) expected to receive a traditional defined benefit pension from their employer, and those eligible for this benefit believed it would make up more than half (54 percent) of their retirement income. However, despite their reliance on an expected pension income, about half (49 percent) were worried the amount could change during retirement. More than a third (35 percent) didn't know how their benefit would be determined.
Roughly two-thirds (64 percent) reported having access to a voluntary retirement plan at the workplace (typically a 457 deferred compensation program). Of this group, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) said they were actively making contributions to these plans.
However, their balances did not represent substantial sums. Fifty percent of the respondents had less than $50,000 in their accounts. Another 20 percent didn't know what their balance was.
More than half (51 percent) also said they would like to invest more into these plans, but for various reasons did not.
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