Posted On July 31, 2014

Survey Shows Retirement Outlook Differs Between Generations

Reprinted with permission

The face of retirement for today’s workers differs sharply by generation, a nationwide survey recently revealed.

Earlier this year, Harris Poll conducted the 15th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey – one of the largest and longest-running surveys of its kind. Results showed that three generations of workers have three very different outlooks for retirement.

“Times are changing so rapidly that the retirements of baby boomers, Generation X and millennials will not only be a radical departure from their parents’ generations but from each other as well,” said Catherine Collinson, TCRS president.

Baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – reported an estimated median retirement savings of $127,000, which in many cases is not enough to fund retirement needs.

According to the survey:

  • Thirty-six percent of baby boomers expect Social Security to be their primary source of retirement income, compared to 26 percent in 2007.
  • Sixty-five percent of baby boomers plan to work beyond age 65, and more than half expect to continue working at least part-time after retiring.
  • Only about one in five (21 percent) baby boomers plan to immediately stop working upon retirement.
  • Twenty-six percent of baby boomers have a plan to fall back on if they are forced into full retirement from their current jobs sooner than expected.
  • Generation X workers were born between 1965 and 1978 and are members of the first generation with access to 401(k) plans for most of their careers. They reported an estimated median total household retirement savings of $70,000 but said they will need to save $1 million (median) in order to retire in comfort.

According to the survey:

  • Twenty-seven percent of current Generation X 401(k) participants have tapped into their deferred compensation plan by utilizing its loan and/or early withdrawal features.
  • Roughly half of Generation X workers expect to self-fund retirement with 401(k)s, 403(b)s or IRAs.
  • More than half of Generation X employees plan to work beyond age 65 or do not plan to retire.
  • About 90 percent of Generation X workers highly value 401(k)s and similar plans as an important benefit.
  • Among Generation X workers offered a retirement plan, 84 percent participate in it and contribute 7 percent (median) of their yearly salary.
  • Millennials – those born after 1978 – started saving for retirement at an unprecedented median age of 22. Referring to them as a generation of super savers, Collinson said they have “heard and responded to the message they need to start early and save as much as possible.”

According to the survey:

  • Sixty-six percent of millennials expect to self-fund their retirement through 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs or other savings and investments.
  • Seventy percent of millennials have begun saving for retirement.
  • Among millennials offered a 401(k) or similar plan, about 70 percent participate, contributing 8 percent (median) of their annual salary. Among those whose employers offer a matching contribution, the salary contribution rate increases to 10 percent.
  • Two out of three millennials said they likely would change jobs if it meant getting better retirement benefits.

To see the complete survey results and for additional information, visit