Building and maintaining retirement savings is something over which a majority of Americans feel they have little or no control, according to a new Gallup poll.
Fifty-eight percent, basically unchanged since last February, believe they lack the ability to influence or impact efforts to amass retirement savings in this economic environment. This is down from 54 percent in September of 2011, following the first-ever downgrade of the country’s credit rating, which set off waves of market volatility.
June over one-quarter (28 percent) of investors polled by Gallup said that their ability to control their investments has decreased over the past six months. Nearly seven-in-10 (69 percent) cited unemployment and the weak economy as the primary factors in their perceived loss of control over building and maintaining their retirement savings. Sixty-three percent cited the contentious political environment that impedes progress on getting the economy back on track.
The federal budget deficit, which is approaching $1 trillion for the fourth straight year, was cited by 70 percent of respondents as the most important factor affecting the U.S. investment climate, followed closely by the unemployment rate, which now stands at 8.2 percent. This is the lowest level since January 2009, but still a concern by analysts who attribute the decline to discouraged former workers who have given up looking for a job. These people, no longer in the workforce, are not counted as unemployed.
A majority of respondents also cited the logjam in Washington, DC and energy prices (64 percent), and home values (50 percent) as factors hurting the investment climate. Forty-eight percent cited the financial condition of state and local governments and the European debt crisis (48 percent), while 39 percent said the availability of credit, or lack thereof (39 percent)
These factors wreaked havoc on U.S. investor optimism, which declined in May to a reading of 24, down from 40 in February, according to Gallup. Just over one-quarter of respondents (28 percent) said they are neither better nor worse off financially than they were prior to the 2008 presidential election. Twenty-four percent said they were somewhat worse, while 23 percent said they were somewhat better off financially.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.