Workers who are offered 401(k) plans, or similar employee-funded arrangements, exhibit more proactive retirement savings behaviors, demonstrate higher levels of knowledge about retirement investing, and are more confident in their ability to retire comfortably, according to a new survey.
The survey, by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, polled nearly 3,600 U.S. workers, and found that the availability of a plan is highly correlated to proactive saving behaviors beyond simply providing a vehicle to save. For example, workers who are offered a plan started saving at a median age of 28 (two years before those without plans)allowing more time to contribute and potentially grow their savings. Of those who are offered a plan, more than three out of four (77 percent) participate in the plan and two-thirds (66 percent) are saving for retirement outside of the plan provided by their employer. By comparison, only 57 percent of those not offered a plan are saving outside of work.
Workers offered an employee-funded savings plan also appear to be at a distinct advantage because they are more likely to have a retirement savings strategy; 61 percent have developed some form of a retirement savings strategy, compared to only 40 percent of workers without an employee-funded plan. They also demonstrate a better understanding of the fundamentals of retirement investing.
Although retirement confidence is lacking among most workers, the survey found that workers who are offered a 401(k) plan or similar arrangement are more likely to agree that they are building a large enough retirement nest egg (45 percent), compared to those workers who are not offered a plan (27 percent),
Significantly more workers without a plan expect to retire after the age of 70 or not at all (47 percent, versus 36 percent with a plan). More workers without plans expect to rely on Social Security as their primary source of retirement income (31 percent versus 20 percent).
Workers at large companies are more likely to be offered a 401(k) or similar plan (80 percent) than those of small companies (60 percent). Fewer than half of the part-time worker respondents (48 percent) indicated that their company offered them a plan, compared to 82 percent of full-time workers. Part-time workers at small companies are even worse off: only 33 percent are offered a plan.
Workers in their 20s (57 percent) are less likely to be offered a plan than those in their 30s (77 percent), 40s (76 percent), 50s (72 percent), or 60s (66 percent). Sixty-seven percent of women surveyed indicated that they are offered a plan by their employers, compared to 74 percent of men who were surveyed. Only half of women who work part-time are offered a plan (50 percent).
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