Fewer Americans are saving for retirement and those who do set aside funds for their golden years are saving less.
Nearly two-thirds of workers say they or their spouses have retirement savings, which is virtually unchanged from a year earlier, according to an annual survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and market research firm Greenwald & Associates. The study included 1,000 Americans ages 25 and over.
The number of workers who save for retirement has been falling steadily since 2009, when 75% reported that they had retirement savings.
Roughly a third of the survey's respondents have less than $1,000 stashed away, excluding their homes and defined benefit plans , up from 28% a year earlier. Sixty percent have less than $25,000 set aside, compared to 57% last year.
Unemployment and under-employment are two driving forces in the data. People who are struggling to find work have less money to save, and they lack access to employee-sponsored retirement savings plans that can significantly improve people's savings, the survey stated.
Workers who participate in employee-sponsored retirement plans are "considerably more likely" to have saved at least $50,000 compared to those who opt out of plans or do not have access to them, the survey found. Just 18% of workers participating in employer-sponsored plans say they have less than $10,000 set aside, compared to 58% of those who choose not to participate and 54% of workers who are not offered a plan.
Income brackets also play a large part in determining retirement savings. Sixty-eight percent of people with annual household incomes of less than $35,000 had less than $1,000 in retirement savings. About a quarter of people with incomes between $35,000 and $75,000 had less than $1,000 set aside, and only 3% of people who earned more than $75,000 fell into that category.
"Total savings and investments increase sharply with household income, education and health status," the survey says.
The survey also shows that 56% of Americans have yet to calculate how much money they will need to live comfortably in retirement. Those in higher income brackets are "significantly more likely" to do the math than lower earners, and those who calculate their savings needs tend to have more money socked away.