Survey: Public Employees More Confident They’ll Have Comfortable Retirement Than Private Sector Counterparts


It’s a question that goes through the mind of everyone: Will I have enough money saved to live comfortably and securely when I retire?

A new survey from Pew Charitable Trusts asked that very question. Turns out, when it comes to retirement, the minds of public sector employees are more at ease than the American workforce on the whole:

According to a survey from The Pew Charitable Trusts, 69% of public employees said they were very or somewhat confident they would have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, compared with 55% of [private and public sector] Americans surveyed for the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s (EBRI) 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey. Female public employees were less likely than men to express confidence in their retirement situation: 63% of women said they were very or somewhat confident, compared with 77% of men.

But perhaps the most shocking reveal of the survey was that one of every five public employees didn’t know what kind of retirement plan was offered by their employer.

One-fifth of state and local workers polled said they did not know what type of retirement plan their employers offer. Women were more likely to say this (23%) compared to men (15%). In addition, workers younger than 50 were more likely to report that they did not know what type of retirement plan they have than were workers 50 or older.


Graph courtesy of Pew Charitable Trusts

Other interesting tidbits from the survey:

Slightly more than half (54%) of state and local public workers said they expected to retire at age 65 or later. Of this group, 25% said they expect to retire at 65, and 29% said they expect to retire after 65. An additional 4% of respondents volunteered that they do not ever expect to fully retire. These results are similar to findings in the EBRI survey.

And how plan design affects retirement decisions:

State and local employees said retirement plan design affects decisions about when to stop working. Eighty percent said they think some government employees who want to leave their jobs keep working until retirement age so they will not lose retirement benefits, including 60% who said they think this happens a lot. Fifty-six percent said they think some workers retire earlier than they would like in order to maximize retirement benefits, including 31% who think this happens a lot. Overall, 88% of respondents said they think workers either work longer or retire earlier than their preference in order to maximize retirement benefits, including 48% who think both things happen.

Many employees also think their plans are in need of changes, whether they be minor tweaks or major overhauls:

Thirty-five percent of respondents said their employer’s retirement system needs changes, including 12% who said it needs major changes. Sixty-one percent said they think their employer’s retirement system should be kept as it is. Those with lower confidence in their ability to live comfortably in retirement were more likely to say they would like to see changes. So were women (38%) compared with men (30%).


Photo by Robyn Lee via Flickr CC