By Shirley N Lew
AsAmNews New York Correspondent
A survey by AARP has found high anxiety among New York City’s Asian Americans approaching retirement age.
A new report released this month is appropriately entitled High Anxiety: New York City Asian America Gen X and Boomers Struggle with Stress, Savings and Security.
The survey revealed that Asian American Gen Xers , together with the Baby Boomers of New York City, are highly concerned that they are not financially able to retire.
Researchers surveyed registered Asian American voters in New York City between the ages of 35-69. It was announced during a AARP special luncheon in Lower Manhattan. The release of the survey included several panelists on hand to make remarks on the survey’s findings.
The State Director of AARP New York, Beth Finkel said of the survey, “People are anxious and worried. ‘Do I have enough to retire?’ They don’t have time or financial knowledge to plan for their future. One in four Asian Americans feel they will never be able to retire.”
The rising costs of living, college tuition and healthcare are just some of the concerns of retiring comfortably for Asian Americans, according to the survey. Elder care, debt, student loans, unaffordable housing and extended family members living under the same roof also add to financial stress. While everyone assumes they will retire at the age of 67, retirement planning hasn’t even crossed many of their minds or haven’t started.
One benefit that would certainly help not only Asian Americans to save for retirement, but all New Yorkers is to have a state retirement plan. At the moment, only seven states in the country have state facility plans. AARP is hoping New York’s Governor Cuomo will put a state retirement plan in the next budget.
Of the 353 Asian American surveyed by telephone in English only, 32% felt they “often” felt they were not saving enough, while 33% “sometimes” felt they weren’t saving enough. More than a quarter of those surveyed also felt they were not confident or not too confident that they will be able to retire at some point. Yet, 50% of them plan on leaving New York State to retire and live elsewhere. Being able to afford housing in the future was a high concern at 57%.
Howard Shih, the director of research and policy at Asian American Federation wants more affordable housing. He said, “Affordable housing will keep seniors in New York. If you sell your house, where will you go? Many are using the equity of their homes to retire. We know that in Asian families, we are the care-givers. The impact of New Yorkers moving out may actually destroy the Asian family structure.”
A key finding in the survey revealed that 46% of Asian Americans are more likely to experience hardship in saving for retirement due to caregiving.
Shih also added that if the middle class New Yorkers all left the state, only the poor and the wealthy would remain and New York State would suffer financially.
Senior Research Advisor at AARP, Angela Houghton said, “Many know there are plans to help save, but do not take advantage of it. There is an automatic payroll deduction that helps save.”
One issue that was brought up during the luncheon is that many small business owners can not afford to offer their employees a matching retirement savings plan. Fifty-six percent of workers surveyed do not have a pension and 41% have do not have a 401k. With so many Asian Americans that own or work for a small business, this is a retirement issue for the employees and a financial issue for New York State.
“This busts the myth of the model minority that Asians are all wealthy,” said Daphne Kwok, vice-president of Multi-Cultural Leadership AAPI Audience at AARP.
Another point on why we all need more money for retirement was said by Sandy Poon-Wing, vice-president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.
“We are living a lot longer. You could be spending 30 years in retirement,” Poon-Wing said.
The survey set off an alarm that so many Asian Americans surveyed are unprepared for retirement. Thirty-six percent have no savings and 28% never expect to retire. AARP continues to strongly urge state residents to press state legislature and local officials to look into more research, policy, and programs to assist residents for a financially secure retirement.
The panel discussion was moderated by Arthur Chi’en of WNYW-TV FOX 5 and included closing remarks by Rocky Chin, director of The Office of Equal Opportunity & Diversity, New York State Division of Human Rights.
Chin would like to see more policy and research “with action.” About the findings of the survey, “There is a crisis on the horizon,” he exclaimed.
A similar survey on Hispanics will later be released.
The full survey is available online at AARP. Visit here for more information on how the survey was executed or contact Senior Research Advisor, Angela Houghton at 202-434-2261. You may also email her at [email protected]
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