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Reliance on 401(k) retirement accounts drops, poll shows

Retirement PlanningRetirement
Fewer people rely on 401(k) accounts to fund their retirement years, poll shows
Lingering losses in stock market cause some people to rely less on 401(k)s for retirement
Winning retirement formula? Less reliance on 401(k)s, more reliance on Social Security

Fewer Americans are counting on 401(k) accounts to fund their retirement years, apparently because of disappointment with the stock market after painful losses in the Great Recession, according to a new study.

Only 48% of non-retirees expect a 401(k), individual retirement account or similar savings vehicle to be a major source of retirement income, according to a Gallup poll. That’s up from 46% last year but down from 54% in early 2008, just before the worst of the global financial crisis struck.

Even though the stock market has recouped its crisis-era losses and gone on to a series of new highs, many small investors missed the gains because they bailed out before that.

Confidence in 401(k)s has improved in recent years from a low of 42% in 2009, according to the poll. But that’s fairly unimpressive given the resurgence in stock prices.

A bit more than 3 in 10 non-retirees expect to rely heavily on Social Security, according to the poll.

That number has grown in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

From 2002 to 2007, the portion of non-retirees expecting to count heavily on Social Security fluctuated between 25% and 29%. From 2008 to 2014, by contrast, the range increased to 30% to 34%.

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