A Kiplinger Empower Poll: How Retirement Savers Are Doing

We’re working hard to get back on track, according to this new poll.

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An overwhelming majority of retirement savers believe they are on track to retire comfortably, according to a new national poll conducted by Kiplinger in partnership with money management firm Empower. Some 40% of savers are very confident that they’re on track for a comfortable retirement, and 44% are somewhat confident. The poll, conducted in November, surveyed individuals with at least $50,000 in retirement savings.

Most survey participants are saving diligently. Nearly 60% are stashing 10% or more of their income toward retirement, and about 30% of respondents are saving at least 15% of income. And 14% are supersavers, putting aside 20% or more of their income toward retirement. The vast majority (81%) say they have a workplace retirement plan, such as a 401(k), 403(b), 457, SEP IRA or solo 401(k). In addition, more than one-third (35%) have a traditional IRA, and 25% own a Roth IRA.

Among those with a workplace savings plan, about 80% have a plan that offers a matching contribution, and nearly 90% of those workers contribute enough to get the full match. The median match is 4% of pay. Nearly six in 10 (59%) say their employer offers a Roth 401(k) or other Roth option in their retirement lineup, and 74% of those workers are currently contributing to that option. Millennials (78%) and Gen Xers (73%) were more likely than baby boomers (61%) to contribute to the Roth.

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A desire to do more. Even so, more than one-third of respondents (36%) say they would like to be saving 20% or more. Not surprisingly, older workers are saving more: The median savings rate for baby boomers is 14%, and about half say they would like to be saving 20% or more.

The median amount people think they will need in retirement is $540,846. But almost one-third (31%) of respondents expect to need a nest egg of $1 million or more. The closer they are to retirement, the more likely they are to say they are going to need a larger nest egg and more time in the workforce to retire comfortably.

The pandemic created a few obstacles. Some 43% report experiencing a financial setback. Of those, more than half say they haven’t yet recovered from the setback. During the pandemic, almost one in five (19%) took out a loan from their workplace retirement plan. Among those, the median amount borrowed was $30,231. Those who borrowed from their workplace savings used the funds for living expenses (61%), medical bills (51%) and home repairs (47%). Here are the survey highlights:

How confident are you that you will have enough savings to retire comfortably?

  • Very confident: 40%
  • Not confident: 16%
  • Somewhat confident: 44%

How much of your annual income are you currently saving for retirement?

  • Less than 5%: 14%
  • 5% to 9%: 24%
  • 10% to 14%: 27%
  • 15% to 19%: 16%
  • 20% or more: 14%
  • Not sure: 5%

Does your employer offer a matching contribution to your workplace retirement plan?

  • Yes: 80%
  • No: 15%
  • Not sure: 5%

If your employer offers a matching contribution for your workplace retirement plan, do you contribute enough to get the full amount?*

  • Yes: 89%
  • No: 7%
  • Not sure: 5%

Does your employer offer a Roth 401(k) or another Roth option in its retirement plan?

  • Yes: 59%
  • No: 30%
  • Not sure: 11%

Are you currently contributing to a Roth option in your workplace retirement plan?

  • Yes: 74%
  • No: 23%
  • Not sure: 3%

If given the option to invest in cryptocurrency in your workplace retirement plan, how likely would you be to do so?*

  • Very likely: 37%
  • Somewhat likely: 33%
  • Not likely: 29%

If given the option to invest in a fund with an ESG (environmental, social and governance) focus in your workplace retirement plan, how likely would you be to do so?

  • Very likely: 42%
  • Somewhat likely: 41%
  • Not likely: 17%

Which of the following situations are likely to affect your expected retirement date?

  • Becoming eligible for Social Security: 34%
  • Experiencing a change in job status: 32%
  • Paying off my mortgage: 31%
  • Paying off other debt: 30%
  • Reaching a specific savings goal: 29%
  • Receiving an early-retirement bonus offer from my employer: 26%
  • Syncing retirement with a partner: 25%
  • Finish paying for my children’s college education: 12%

What changes have you made in anticipation that today’s low tax rates are set to expire by the end of 2025 or sooner?†

  • I’ve been investing in a Roth IRA: 35%
  • I’ve been converting a traditional IRA or other tax-deferred retirement account to a Roth IRA: 24%
  • I’ve been investing in municipal bonds: 17%
  • I’ve made no changes: 50%

Do you think that climate change will affect where you choose to live in retirement?

  • Yes: 42%
  • No: 39%
  • Not sure: 19%



The survey included 997 respondents ages 25 to 75 with at least $50,000 in retirement savings. We excluded those who were partially or fully retired. Respondents were equally split between males and females. The median age was 43. Median household income before taxes in 2021 was $95,105. Median retirement savings was $122,725, and median household net worth, excluding primary residence, was $232,854. The poll was conducted November 9 to 16, 2021. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.


*Figures do not add up to 100% due to rounding.


†Respondents were asked to select all that apply.