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Pandemic Has Americans Rethinking Retirement

Many say they plan to work longer, save more

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En español | More than half (54 percent) of American workers plan to continue to work in retirement because of the financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 40 percent saying they want a safety net to cover unexpected costs and to act as a buffer against future market volatility, according to a new survey.

The poll of 1,005 U.S. adults, released by Voya Financial, an investment management firm, also found that Gen Xers, at 60 percent, are the generation most likely to say they plan to work during retirement. Boomers are close behind, at 59 percent, followed by millennials, at 49 percent.

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"We're in a time period where the definition of retirement is evolving and will continue to evolve as a result of COVID-19,” Charlie Nelson, chief executive officer of retirement and employee benefits at Voya Financial, said in an email. “However, retirement for many individuals means more than just financial needs and could include concerns of health, but sometimes it means a desire for a mental well-being."

Nelson noted that the survey showed that money isn't the only factor. It found that 56 percent of respondents would prefer to continue working in retirement to stay mentally alert and to maintain their cognitive ability.

"It's clear people are thinking about retirement in a more holistic fashion,” Nelson said.

The pandemic also has changed workers’ financial priorities. An additional survey of participants in Voya-managed plans found that of those who recently changed their savings rate, 70 percent increased their contributions.

"COVID-19 has reminded everyone about the important role workplace benefits, including retirement savings, can [have] to help weather market volatility,” Nelson said.

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