Press Release

One in four U.S. employees expect to work beyond age 70

Willis Towers Watson survey also reveals one-third anticipate retiring later than previously planned

June 2, 2016
| United States

ARLINGTON, VA, June 2, 2016 — Despite an improvement in their financial situation and retirement confidence, roughly one in four U.S. employees believe they won’t be able to retire until after age 70, if at all, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company. Additionally, nearly one-third (32%) anticipate retiring later than previously planned.

The Global Benefits Attitudes Survey of nearly 5,100 U.S. employees found 23% believe they’ll have to work past age 70 to live comfortably in retirement; another 5% don’t think they’ll ever be able to retire. According to the survey, while the average U.S. employee expects to retire at age 65, they admit there is a 50% chance of working to age 70.

“Although their financial situation has improved over the past few years, many workers remain worried about their long-term financial stability,” said Steven Nyce, a senior economist at Willis Towers Watson. “In fact, the only way for many employees to achieve retirement security and overcome inadequate savings is to work longer. Interestingly, employees are increasingly looking to their employers for help with retirement.”

Indeed, according to the survey, more than six in 10 (62%) respondents would be willing to pay more out of their paychecks for more generous retirement benefits; 63% would be willing to pay more for a certain benefit at the point of retirement.

The survey also shows employees who expect to work longer are less healthy, more stressed and more likely to feel stuck in their jobs than those who expect to retire earlier. According to the survey, 40% of employees expecting to retire after age 70 have high or above average stress levels, compared with 30% of those expecting to retire at 65. For those planning to retire after age 70, less than half (47%) say they are in very good health, while nearly two-thirds (63%) of those retiring at age 65 state they are in very good health. Additionally, 40% of employees planning to work past 70 feel they are stuck in their jobs, compared with just a quarter of those who expect to retire at 65 (28%) or before 65 (27%).

“With the vast majority of workers counting on their employer’s retirement plan as the primary way they save for retirement, employers have plenty of motivation to act. In addition to saving for retirement, employees are dealing with other, competing financial priorities such as housing and debt. Employers should take this opportunity to personalize their real-time decision-making support and recalibrate default enrollment to close the gaps in employee understanding about the savings amount required and costs in retirement,” said Shane Bartling, senior retirement consultant at Willis Towers Watson.

Among other survey findings:

  • A quarter (24%) of employees under age 30 believe they’ll retire in their 70s or later, increasing to 28% of those in their 30s and a third (33%) of those in their 40s.
  • Over the past two decades, the percentage of U.S. men aged 65 or older who are working has grown from 15% in 2003 to 22% last year.
  • Almost eight in 10 workers will rely on their employer retirement plan(s) as the primary vehicle they use to save for retirement.

About the survey

The Willis Towers Watson 2015 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey measured attitudes of over 30,000 nongovernmental, private sector employees in 19 countries. A total of 5,083 workers from the U.S. participated in the survey, which was conducted between June and August 2015.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 39,000 employees in more than 120 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential. Learn more at