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The Takeaway: Workers Would Trade Pay for Better Retirement Benefits

Posted By Elizabeth Nolan Brown On February 28, 2012 @ 9:34 am In Bulletin Today | 1 Comment

Shifting Attitudes Seen In Older and Younger Workers: Would you trade some of your pay for better retirement and health care benefits? A new survey from HR-consulting firm Towers Watson found more than half of U.S. workers would. And nearly half are worried about reductions in their retirement benefits over the next two years. With confidence in retirement benefits so low, it’s no wonder so many American adults plan to work beyond traditional retirement age-or would take a pay cut now for more security later.
Since the economic crisis, employees have been paying much closer attention to their retirement readiness, and many are willing to look at new ways to balance their mix of pay and benefits,” says Kevin Wagner, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson.
The 55 percent of respondents who said they’re willing to pay a higher amount from each paycheck to ensure guaranteed retirement benefits is up from 46 percent two years ago. Additionally, half of respondents say they would trade some pay to ensure they have access to health care benefits if they retire before Medicare eligibility age, and 53 percent said they would trade a portion of pay in return for more generous benefits.
These sentiments weren’t limited to older workers:
The survey found that some of the most dramatic changes in attitudes toward risk, rewards and security trade-offs have been among younger employees and those with a defined benefit plan. Among DB plan participants younger than 40, the number willing to pay for a guaranteed retirement benefit jumped by nearly 70%, from 39% in 2009 to 66% in 2011.

But older workers-along with women, lower-paid workers and those with health issues-were most willing to relinquish control over retirement investments in exchange for more long-term stability. Meanwhile …

More older Americans hold college degrees: Educated boomers are swelling the senior population at rates faster than young adults earn diplomas. Currently, about 26 percent of Americans 60 and older have a bachelor’s degree, up from 13 percent in 1992-and now an all-time high.

According to the Associated Press, these educational gains among older Americans are fueled in part by all the aging college graduates who attended school in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s following government expansions of the G.I. bill. But increased enrollment in adult continuing education programs has also bolstered the gains. Overall, the number of college graduates between 60 and 69-years-old jumped nearly 55 percent during the past five years. The number of 25 to 29-year-old college graduates rose just 20 percent in that time.

Tuesday quick hits:

  • Medical tattoos? A growing number of Americans are getting inked not to make a fashion statement but to let doctors and first responders know about health concerns, from chronic conditions to allergies to end-of-life wishes. But so far, these tattoos don’t appear to carry much legal weight.
  • Jan Berenstein, who with her husband wrote and illustrated the beloved children’s book series, Berenstein Bears, has died; she was 88.
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