Retirement & Financial Planning Report

The economic downturn had the largely predictable effect of making more Americans more concerned about their retirement security, but years after the recession officially ended those concerns remain, according to a report from the TowersWatson consulting firm.

It said that more than half of workers it surveyed said retirement income had become more important to them over the last few years, and that of workers age 50 or older, nearly four-fifths say they are concerned about their retirement security. The most common concern is cutbacks to employer-sponsored benefits, particularly to defined benefit programs (such as CSRS and FERS) that have been eroding in the private sector and that have been the subject of numerous similar proposed reductions among government workplaces at all levels, including the federal level.

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Meanwhile, concern about the financial health of Social Security has caused employees to place even more emphasis on their own retirement savings through vehicles such as the TSP and 401(k) plans. Three fourths now say such plans are their primary means of saving for retirement, up from three-fifths in 2009.

Also, three-fifths would be willing to sacrifice some of their current pay for a more generous retirement benefit. Older employees in particular “overwhelmingly value retirement benefits more highly than pay increases.”