By Walter Pierce
Nov. 15, 2013

The ’80s rock band Loverboy may have been working for the weekend, but most of us are just slogging along for retirement. And since the U.S. economy slipped off the rails in 2008, a sizeable number of us are not only pushing back retirement; we’re planning to work until the very end of our lives. This is especially true of the middle class, which after seeing its 401Ks 86ed by the Great Recession, has grown wary of investing in the stock market, according to a recent survey by Harris Interactive commissioned by banking behemoth Wells Fargo.

According to that survey, a whopping 37 percent of middle class Americans say they’ll work until they die or at least until they’re too sick to work; almost as many — 34 percent — see themselves working until they’re 80. (Hopefully air traffic controllers were not part of the survey.)

What’s striking in this latter number is how rapidly retirement confidence has eroded in the American middle: just two years ago the percentage of who said they would work until age 80 stood at 25.

The survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,000 Americans ages 25 to 75 whose household income ranges between $25,000 and $99,000. And there’s almost no good news to be gleaned from it from a financial planner’s perspective.

Wells Fargo commissions the survey annually, and according to Laurie Nordquist, the bank’s head of Institutional Retirement & Trust, “the struggle to pay bills is a growing concern and the prospect of saving for retirement looks dim, particularly for those in their prime saving years.”

More from the survey:

• 59 percent say their main day-to-day financial concern is meeting monthly bill obligations, up from 52 percent last year.

• One third say their primary source of retirement income will be Social Security.

• 45 percent say the stock market wouldn’t benefit them.

“There is a striking amount of fear about the stock market among all investors,” Nordquist adds. “The middle class just isn’t making the link between being invested and the potential growth of their savings, but on top of this fear is apathy — there is no interest in learning more about investing.”

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