Gen X has more retirement concerns than boomers — am I next?

By Vanessa De La Rosa


Despite the (sluggish) improvements in the economy and the recovering stock market, a new Pew Research Center survey has found that nearly 4 in 10 Americans do not feel they will be able to sufficiently retire. Americans are more worried today about their retirement finances than they were at the end of the Great Recession. Which age group is the most uneasy about their retirement security? If you're like me, you would probably guess that baby boomers had claimed that prize, especially those on the brink of retirement age.

And up to now, most polls did find boomers to be the biggest nest-egg worriers. In 2009, Americans ages 51 to 55 had the most despair about their income and assets, doubting their ability to retire at the appropriate age. However, the Pew Research study has concluded retirement concerns are now more heavily concentrated among Generation X than those near retirement age (or any other group, for that matter).

The newest leaders of the weary pack — those ages 36 to 40 — have tripled in their lack of confidence since the poll in 2009. About 53 percent of those in their late 30s are overwhelmed at the mere thought of retiring.

As a Gen Yer soon to enter her late twenties, I am sort of a rarity, having already started putting retirement money away, albeit a small amount. My boomer parents taught me well. However, I admit that, regardless of my small head start, I still feel a twinge of anxiety when pondering how I can save and invest enough income to live comfortably for 15 or 20 years. (And that’s with a full-time job and without having lost any assets in the recent recession.)

And I’m certainly not alone: Roughly 30 percent of 20-somethings are “not too” or “not at all” confident they will have enough to live on in retirement. Why are Americans in their late 20s — like me — almost as worried as Americans ages 45-54 were three years ago? And why are more than half of those in their late 30s more concerned than any other age group?

Pew researchers think this new finding can be attributed to the decline of the housing market and the fact that younger workers aren’t as likely to receive guaranteed pensions.

“The median net worth of this group has fallen at a far greater rate than for any other age group both in the past 10 years and since the beginning of the Great Recession,” the report notes.

Is this a continuing trend? Will I be even less confident in my retirement finances 10 years from now? Whatever the case, I hope these numbers drop dramatically, and soon.