How Are People Feeling About Retirement?

We ask people around the country about their retirement concerns and whether and how the economic crisis has caused them to reconsider their retirement plans.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block in Washington.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And this is Robert Siegel in New York. One topic on people's minds these days is their retirement. With the value of retirement funds taking a beating this year, people of all ages all over the country are talking about their plans for the future.

BLOCK: Well, we set out to ask people how those plans have been affected by the economic crisis, and here's a sampling of what we heard. In the younger range, 29-year-old Doug McGarvey(ph), 36-year-old Elizabeth Davies(ph) and 37-year-old William Shaff(ph), all from Miami.

Mr. DOUG MCGARVEY: I cashed out my 401(k). I have it in my bank.

Ms. ELIZABETH DAVIES: ...or the people, that they say you can kind of keep contributing to the 401(k), and it should all regroup by then because we've got another 35 years or so, hopefully.

Mr. WILLIAM SHAFF: I stopped contributing to my 401(k), and everything is just cash now.

SIEGEL: For people a couple of decades older in their 50s and 60s, the question of retirement is a little more immediate, people such as Deborah Fleishman(ph) and Mark Zalona(ph) of Los Angeles, and Robert Zuppels(ph) and Harry Ostritcher(ph) of Miami.

Mr. MARK ZALONA: I already retired eight years ago. I'm not going to change anything.

Mr. ROBERT ZUPPELS: I made a mistake looking at my last statement.

Mr. HARRY OSTRITCHER: Well, I'm OK. I have a good pension. But the way things are going, we don't know what's going to happen to that pension.

Ms. DEBORAH FLEISHMAN: We might have been able to retire, but the last time we looked at our 401(k), it was half the amount that it was six months ago. I don't think we're going to be able to retire at all. So, yeah, we're worried. We're very worried.

BLOCK: Marguerite Henry(ph) of Evansville, Indiana, is hoping to ride out the downturn.

Ms. MARGUERITE HENRY (Postal Service Worker): Well, I work for the postal service, and they've sent out a voluntary early retirement. And I qualify because I'm 55 and I've got more than 20 years of service. I looked at it, thought about the economy, and I'm going to wait.

BLOCK: And here is someone with no plans to retire at all.

Ms. SHIRLEY WARNER(ph): I will be working till they find me dead on the floor, because who can live on Social Security?

SIEGEL: That was Shirley Warner of Los Angeles. She's 74, she works as a waitress, and she is one of several people we heard describe their concerns about retirement.

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