Retirement Survey: The Results Are In

GAWDA members are rethinking their retirement plans.

Have you changed your retirement plans because of the economy?A recent survey by Gallup/Wells Fargo points to the rising age of retirement for small business owners. In that poll, 69% of business owners said they do not expect to retire before age 65. This number was up 28 percentage points from 2005—largely due to the economy, which has thrown a wrench into the retirement plans of many. To see how these results stack up against the gases and welding industry, Welding & Gases Today conducted a poll of GAWDA members. Respondents were asked to indicate their job title, with 54% indicating that they are owners or executives in their respective businesses.

When asked about the impact of the economy on retirement, 76.9% of all respondents indicate that it has forced them to change their retirement plans. Business owners came in slightly under the overall number, with 71.4% changing their retirement plans because of the economy. This compares with 60%of business owners in the Gallup/Wells Fargo survey.

At what age can you retire?
Percent of owners whose retirement plans changed because of economy

As the numbers show, it is not only the business owners who are facing later retirement. No GAWDA member says he or she realistically expects to retire before age 65, while 8.3% say they may never retire. Another one-third of respondents will retire between ages 70 and 75. Overall, respondents give an average retirement age of 67.9.

To gauge the scope of a rising retirement age in the gases and welding industry, WGT asked GAWDA members to compare the age at which they hoped to retire with that at which they could realistically retire. On average, members say they will have to work an additional 1.9 years. This includes 16.7% of respondents—all of them business owners—who indicate that they hope to work beyond their realistic retirement age.

What It Means
The results mirror the findings of WGT’s 2011 Business Forecast, with members indicating that the economy has forced them to adapt. Compared with business owners in general, a greater number of GAWDA member owners have had to change their plans because of the economy (71.4% compared with Gallup/Wells Fargo’s 60%), and more members will retire at age 65 or older than at small businesses in general (100% compared with 69%). And like the representative business owners in the Gallup/Wells Fargo survey, several of the GAWDA members polled plan to work beyond the age at which they can retire. These data point to one of the more subtle ways the economy is impacting the gases and welding industry.

When can you retire?

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), “normal retirement age” is the age at which an individual can receive full Social Security benefits. Someone retiring in 2011 would need to be 66 to receive full benefits. Find out your full retirement age on the SSA website.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association