US - Only 32% of Americans say that companies will reinstate pensions if they were cut, while 25% claim they will not and 43% remain unsure, according to the Harris Poll, a nationwide survey conducted between March 24 and 26 by Harris Interactive.
Regionally, respondents in the Midwest are more likely to believe these benefits will be reinstated than people in other areas in the country. The survey also revealed that men are more likely to believe companies will reintroduce the 50% match on 401(k) contributions than women (31% against 28%).
Harris Interactive senior vice president of the financial services research group Howard Lax commented: "Overall, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how companies will behave in the future. Large pluralities of Americans are uncertain if businesses will reinstate any of the cuts in salaries and benefits made in the wake of the economic crisis."
He added that "there is a ray of hope" as one third of respondents expect cuts to be reversed, which outnumbers the one quarter of pessimists who believe the cuts will be permanent.
Yet the 2009 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) shows that the economy has driven confidence to record lows.
Workers who believe they have enough money for a comfortable retirement this year fell to 13% in 2009, the lowest level since the survey started in 1993. This marks a continuing two-year decline.
The survey reveals that retirees have also shown a new low in confidence, with only 20% feeling very confident that they have a financially secure retirement, down from 41% in 2007.
The recent economic uncertainty, inflation and the cost of living have all been cited by respondents as the primary causes affecting confidence in the affordability of a comfortable retirement.
As a result of the economic downturn, 28% of workers in the survey say the age they expect to retire has changed in the past year while 89% say they have postponed retirement with the intention of increasing their financial security. The median worker expects to retire at 65, while 21% plans to work into their 70s.
Similarly, the percentage of workers planning to work after they retire has risen to 72% in 2009, increasing from 66% in 2007, compared with 34% of retirees who claim they worked for pay at some point during their retirement.
For those workers who have lost confidence in the ability to secure a comfortable retirement, 81% claim they have reduced their expenses, while 43% are changing the way they invest their money, 38% working more hours or a second job and 25% seeking advice from a financial professional.
Among all workers, 75% say they or their spouse have saved money for retirement, marking one of the highest levels recorded by the RCS.
EBRI is a Washington DC-based private organisation focussing on public policy research and education on economic security and employee benefit issues.
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