NEW YORK (MainStreet) Public sector employees face unease surrounding retirement, a new survey says.
According to the Center for State and Local Government Excellence and the TIAA-CREF Institute, just 18% of public sector employees feel secure about their retirement, compared to 21% two years ago. Teachers, firefighters and police officers were included in the survey's 1,200 participants.
Among the major worries pubic sector employees share, the future of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare top the list.
"Fewer local and state governments offer retiree health care and public employers also are shifting more health costs to employees and retirees," said Joshua Franzel, Center for State and Local Government Excellence vice president of research and co-author of the report. "This reality has reduced public workers' confidence in these benefits and raises new questions about how much they need to save for health expenses in retirement."
This fuels the overall sentiment about retirement among consumers in general, with recent research showing over one-third of Americans haven't saved anything for retirement, per a recent MainStreet story.
While the report says almost all public employees are part of various employer retirement plans, only 39% of respondents thought they would receive these benefits.
Public sector employees were also bearish about how helpful Social Security will be in the future. Only 7% felt very confident that Social Security would spawn the same benefits for them as it does for today's retirees. Some 55% said they didn't have confidence in the entitlement program.
As for Medicare, similar statistics followed, with 6% showing confidence and 52% feeling uncertain.
Planning for retirement is a tedious process for anyone, regardless of where he works. The study found only 38% of public sector employees received financial assistance from an advisor over the past three years, compared to a much higher 51% in 2012.
"But the reality is that while state and local governments address pension reform in the wake of the 2008-2009 recession, public employees can address 'reform' of their personal planning and saving for retirement," said Paul Yakoboski, senior economist with the TIAA-CREF Institute.
In addition to employer-based retirement programs, which largely surround 403(b)s for public employees, consider opening up a Roth IRA from a discount brokerage firm to double down on your savings efforts. You'll benefit from compounding interest and the tax-free growth, meaning you contribute money to a Roth IRA that you've already paid taxes on.
- Written by Scott Gamm for MainStreet. Gamm is author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE.