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Ready or Not? Retirement Readiness Among Washington State Adults Ages 18-64 in the Workforce

Much has been made about the “Live Now, Worry Later” image of young adults today, but in our survey of Washington adults age 18-64 working or looking for work, three generations of residents, Millennials (age 18-34), Gen X (age 35-50), and  Boomers (age 51-64), feel equally anxious about the future -- which is their retirement security. 

  • Washington adults are anxious about retirement security. 

Fifty-five percent (55%) of respondents are very or somewhat anxious when thinking about their finances in the future. Millennials (age 18-34), Gen X (age 35-50), and Boomers (age 51-64) feel equally anxious about their retirement security.

  • Washington adults are confident they will retire and no longer work for pay because it is something they want to do, and they think they will have enough money saved to afford to retire.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) are at least somewhat confident they will one day be able to retire and no longer work. Seven in ten (72%) say they will retire simply because they want to stop working someday, and because they believe they are saving at a current rate that will provide them enough money for retirement (71%).

  • Most say the income in their retirement years will come from money they have saved in a 401k or other personal savings tool, but three in five have never calculated how much money they will need in retirement. 

Sixty-four percent (64%) say a combination of personal savings and money specifically set aside for retirement in a defined contribution plan will be their largest income sources, but 63% have not done a retirement calculation.

  • Nearly a quarter do not have access to a workplace retirement savings tool.

Twenty-four percent (24%) of survey respondents do not have a way to save for retirement at work. Younger adults have the least amount of access.  Almost a third of Millennials (29%) currently have no way to save at work for their future retirement compared to one-fifth of Boomers (20%) or Gen Xers (21%).

  • Nearly half of all respondents have less than $25,000 saved for retirement. 

Forty-five percent (45%) have less than $25,000 in retirement savings but many have even smaller retirement nests. Overall, 26% have less than $5,000 saved for retirement. Nearly one in two (45%) Millennials has less than $5,000 set aside in retirement savings, as does one in six Gen Xers (17%) and one in eight Boomers (12%).  

  • Many say day to day life gets in the way of saving for retirement.

Fifty-five percent (55%) say concern about current finances is the top reason they can’t save more for retirement.  Generational experiences are also a factor. Millennials are dealing with education expenses such as student loans (46%), Gen X adults are dealing with an income squeeze and can’t afford to save more (53%), and Boomers are dealing with unexpected medical expenses (30%). 

The AARP Retirement Readiness Survey was conducted as a landline and cell phone telephone survey among 1,000 adults ages 18-64 working or looking for work in the state of Washington. The survey was conducted in English by Precision Opinion July 19 to July 25, 2016.  The sample was weighted by age within gender to reflect the population in the state of Washington ages 18-64.  For more information, contact Brittne Nelson at BNelson@aarp.org.

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