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2017 AARP Retirement Security National Survey of Employed Adults Ages 18-64



Fifty-five million working Americans do not have a way to save for retirement out of their regular paycheck. With many American workers anxious about their financial security, there is strong support among conservatives and private sector workers for policies that would make it easier for workers to save for retirement, according to a new AARP survey.

This nationally representative survey of 3,920 private sector workers age 18-64 shows that 8 in 10 (80%) support state level public private partnerships designed to help employees save their money for retirement, which operate similar to a 529 college savings plan for retirement.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Eighty-two percent (82%) of political conservatives agree that elected officials should make it easier for people to save for retirement at work, as do 86% of moderates, and 89% of liberals.

  • Nearly all workers (90%) wish they had more money saved for their retirement years and most are eager to take advantage of opportunities to save for retirement.

  • Among those who currently do not have access to a workplace savings plan, Eighty-six percent (86%) say it is likely they would participate if their employer offered such a plan.

  • About 3 in 4 (74%) report they are anxious about not having enough money to live comfortably during their retirement. Sixty-one percent (61%) of those earning less than $63,500 a year find it difficult to get by compared to only twenty-four percent (24%) of those with incomes of $63,500 or more. Lack of long-term savings and high financial anxiety are likely factors driving a large chunk (34%) of private sector workers to side jobs to earn extra money.

  • Seventy-one percent (71%) are somewhat, not too, or not at all confident they will have the means to be able to retire someday.

  • Nearly all (93%) think it is important the next generation learn how to manage money and save for retirement at an early age, and seven in 10 workers (71%) expect the next generation of their family to be either better off (46%) or the same (25%) as they are today. African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latino/as are more likely than whites to believe future generations will be better off.

This survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago with funding from AARP. Data were collected using AmeriSpeak®, NORC’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population including the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and a supplemental address-based sample from TargetSmart. Interviews for this survey about retirement security were conducted online and via phone between November 1, 2016, and January 16, 2017, with 3,920 adults ages 18-64 employed in private sector industries. Interviews were conducted in English, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese. For more information contact Brittne Nelson at


Suggested Citation:

Nelson, Brittne. 2017 AARP Retirement Security National Survey of Employed Adults Ages 18-64. Washington, DC: AARP Research, February 2017.

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