As the U.S. economy slides into a recession, the economic insecurity that has afflicted so many Americans during the Bush administration is likely to get even worse. Consider what has happened to Americans’ belief that they will be able to live comfortably in retirement. Back in early 2002, 59 percent of non-retirees said they expected to have enough money to live in retirement. That figure has now fallen to just 46 percent.
Retirement worries are now so acute that they have the dubious distinction of being at the very top of consumer economic worries. The 63 percent of the public that say they are very or moderately worried about having enough money for retirement now solidly outranks those saying they are worried about having enough money to pay the medical costs of a serious illness (56 percent) and those saying they are worried about not being able to maintain their standard of living (55 percent).
Politicians talk from time to time about trying to reform our retirement system. These data suggest that such reform should be moved up—way up—on the current list of policy priorities.