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Vast Majority Wants a U.S. Pension

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Here's an intriguing concept: Every American should have a pension.

Far-fetched? Maybe not.

A study shows the vast majority of U.S. adults (especially millennials, the generation of U.S. adults born after 1976) say the current retirement system is in major disrepair and needs an overhaul. To many Americans, a national pension plan is the way to go.

Certainly, Americans are anxious yet underachieving toward their own retirements. A recent report out from HSBC (HBC) says Americans will spend 21 years in retirement but have enough only savings to get through 14 years.

Thus the relatively quiet but firm push for some sort of national pension plan.

According to the Washington, D.C-based National Institute on Retirement Security, 84% of Americans say they are in favor of a pension "for all Americans" and that Congress should act on the problem. More:

  • 85% of Americans say they are "highly anxious" about their retirement prospects.
  • 95% of millennials say the current retirement system is "under stress and needs repair."
  • 90% of Americans support "a new pension plan that is available to all Americans, is portable from job to job and provides a monthly check throughout retirement for those who contribute."
  • 67% of Americans say "it is a mistake to cut government spending in such a way as to reduce Social Security benefits for current retirees."

"Despite stabilization of the financial markets, declining unemployment and increased consumer confidence, Americans are deeply worried about retirement," says Diane Oakley, NIRS' executive director. "Perhaps the high level of anxiety can be tied to Americans' sentiment about the risks embedded in today's crumbling retirement infrastructure -- one where fewer Americans have a reliable monthly pension check in exchange for a system where Americans are investing on their own in a volatile stock market."

For younger Americans, the preference is for the retirements of their grandparents and definitely not of their parents, which appears to millennials to be in disarray, if not jeopardy.

"An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that the Great Recession exposed the risks of the nation's retirement system -- 87%, up from 81% in 2011," Oakley says. "Across generations, millennials are most in tune with the risks of the system -- some 96% agree that the downturn exposed risks inherent in the system. It seems today's younger workers want the security of their grandparents' pension, not the do-it-yourself retirement accounts of their parents."

There is some movement in Congress toward a universal pension plan, especially in the U.S. Senate, where the prospect of Universal, Secure and Adaptable Retirement Funds is up for debate.

There are no data available on what U.S. companies have to say about such a plan, and how much they would have to pay for it (if anything), but workers seem to like the concept: 81% of Americans say they would participate in such a plan, NIRS reports. That just could be enough to push the idea to a healthy debate about how the U.S. is handling its burgeoning retirement problem.

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