The COVID-19 pandemic upended Americans' lives. In many cases, the pause on society affected retirement finances and plans. An October 2022 survey report from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and Transamerica Institute, "Emerging From the COVID-19 Pandemic: Four Generations Prepare for Retirement," examined the pandemic's impact on Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.
The study focused on the experiences of employed workers of for-profit companies and the pandemic's impact on their lives. Transamerica surveyed over 5,000 participants in late 2021 when COVID-19 cases were surging, and many businesses were still undecided about on-site versus remote work.
The generations are divided by year of birth:
- Generation Z: Born 1997 to 2012
- Millennial: Born 1981 to 1996
- Generation X: Born 1965 to 1980
- Baby Boomer: Born 1946 to 1964
Participants were asked about a range of topics:
- Impacts of the pandemic
- Current financial situation
- Visions and expectations of retirement, retirement savings, plans, and preparations.
Results varied significantly among the generations, and are outlined in the following article.
Millennials and Gen Xers are most likely to have changed their anticipated retirement date.
For 60% of workers, the pandemic has not changed their ideas about when they expect to retire. However, nearly one in three workers (32%) say that it has changed their retirement expectations, including 22% who expect to retire later and 10% who expect to retire earlier. Millennials (28%) and Gen Z (27%) were more likely to say that they expect to retire later due to the pandemic, compared with Gen X (18%) and Boomers (13%).
Saving for retirement is a top priority for Boomers and Gen X.
Boomers are more confident about their ability to save for retirement.
Millennials are most concerned with debt's impact on retirement savings.
Millennials and Gen Z dream of paid work in retirement.
Boomers worry about Social Security's viability.
More Boomers plan to work past 65.
Workers across all generations are concerned about their ability to save for retirement, with debt and the pandemic's impact on finances being the biggest obstacle. However, there are some key differences between Millennials and Boomers - while Boomers' confidence in their ability to retire is high, Millennials are more worried about debt's impact on their savings. Additionally, many Boomers plan to work past 65 due to concerns about Social Security's viability.
About half (49%) of workers expect to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire. Expectations of doing so increase with age. Seven in ten Boomers either expect to or are already working past 65 or do not plan to retire (70%), followed by Gen X (50%), Millennials (40%), and Gen Z (39%).
Gen Z workers are more likely than older generations to expect to retire before age 65 (43%). Approximately one in six workers across generations does not plan to retire (Get X: 13%; Millennials: 16%; Boomers: 17%; and Generation Z: 18%).
Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to tap retirement savings early.
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