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PNC Survey Finds Less Than Half of Americans Prepared for Retirement

When it comes to retirement, are you a planner, a procrastinator or an avoider?

PNC’s third annual Perspectives on Retirement Survey finds 42 percent of people ages 35-70 consider themselves to be on track for retirement. Those are the planners.

About a third of people surveyed are procrastinators, saying that they need to prepare but have been putting it off.  And a quarter of respondents are avoiders: people who don’t like to think about retirement and admit they have a lot of work to do to achieve a secure financial future.

Kate Byrne, senior wealth planner at PNC, said it’s not unusual for people to have anxiety about retirement, even if they’ve been saving for it.

“My sense is that no matter how much planning people do, they probably don’t feel 100 percent prepared,” she said. “It’s hard to anticipate costs and expenses and to envision what life is like in the future.”

One of the most surprising findings of the survey was that almost half of people still working think they’ll need to work longer than they initially planned, yet 60 percent of those already retired did so earlier than planned.

“I see the disconnect, people who were thinking I gotta work as long as I can, versus people who were almost forced into retirement because of their health or their job situation,” Byrne said.

The survey also found that women feel less certain about the financial future than men do. About half of the women surveyed agreed with the statement, “I’m afraid I may not be able to retire.” For men, that figure dropped to 40 percent.

Byrne said that didn't necessarily surprise her.

“Women tend to live longer," she said. "They leave the workforce at different points, for either reasons of supporting children or helping parents and elderly relatives.”

On average, people still working thought they’d retire by age 67 and expected to need to fund retirement for another 21.5 years. Half of respondents said they were most concerned about healthcare costs in retirement, saying they weren’t sure how to calculate these expenses.

The survey was conducted by telephone among a nationwide cross section of 1,200 adults.

Liz Reid began working at WESA in 2013 as a general assignment reporter and weekend host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition producer, health & science reporter and as an editor.