FDU Poll: Both Murphy and Ciattarelli Backers Want Full Pension Payments

Ciattarelli and Murphy backers both want full pension payments.

Majorities of voters over 50 are uncertain of their own retirement and support the rapid rollout of the state’s new retirement savings plan for private sector workers

By wide margins, New Jersey voters 50 and over say the state should continue to make full payments to the public workers’ pension fund and support the rapid rollout of the state’s new retirement savings plan for private sector workers. According to a new survey from the FDU Poll, in partnership with AARP, older voters also say they aren’t confident they’ve saved enough for their own retirement, feeding into the high stress levels many older residents are experiencing.

After decades of underfunding contributions to New Jersey’s public employee pension fund, the state finally made a full contribution to the program earlier this year. However, with federal help unlikely to continue, it is far from certain that the state will continue to provide the required level of funding.

Continuing the payments necessary to stabilize the pension fund has become a political football in the governor’s race, but there’s little controversy among older voters in New Jersey. Fully 73 percent of New Jersey voters 50 and older say the state should continue to make the full payments needed to fund the pensions for public sector workers, with only 20 percent saying the state shouldn’t have to make the full contributions. While Democrats are more likely to support fully funding the pensions than Republicans, majorities in both parties want the state to continue to make the payments.

Over the summer, Republican gubernatorial candidate, Jack Ciattarelli, argued against making the full payment to the pension plan, and engendered some confusion about his stance on the issue with a quickly deleted tweet in which he promised to protect pensions for some state workers. However, supporters of both Ciattarelli and Murphy strongly support making the full payments. 82 percent of Murphy supporters 50 and older say that the state should continue to make the full payments and 63 percent of Ciattarelli supporters agree.

“After years of neglect, fully funding the pension system is an expensive proposition,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Executive Director of the poll. “But from a political perspective, when something is this popular in a demographic with high turnout, it’s hard to justify not doing it.”

Respondents were also asked about the state’s new retirement savings program, New Jersey Secure Choice Savings. Under it, employers who do not provide a retirement plan are required to give employees information about a state-sponsored retirement plan that allows for payroll deduction into retirement savings. After having the plan described to them, 82 percent of voters 50 and older said that they favor the plan.

Support for this program is high among supporters of both candidates in the governor’s race. Fully 90 percent of Murphy supporters 50 and over say they support the plan, and 74 percent of Ciattarelli supporters 50 and over say they support the plan.

“We have a retirement savings crisis in New Jersey,” said Stephanie Hunsinger AARP New Jersey State Director. “More than 1.7 million private sector employees can’t save for retirement out of their regular paycheck. We must make it easier for workers to save so they can take control of their financial future. The New Jersey Secure Choice Savings Program will do that and it’s time to get it up and running.”

In recent months, the state has been lagging in the roll out of this program, and respondents who said that they supported it were asked if it was important to carry out the plan quickly, or if it was okay to hold off for now. Not surprisingly, a large majority (83 percent) said that it was important to roll out the plan quickly, with only 9 percent of supporters saying that it was okay to hold off.

The high levels of support for state programs that help secure retirement makes sense in light of how older residents of New Jersey view their own retirements. Only a third of New Jerseyans 50 and older who are still working (33 percent) say that they are “very” confident they’ll have enough money saved to retire when the time comes. Similarly, just 38 percent of those who are currently retired say they are “very” confident that they have enough savings and income to maintain a comfortable retirement.

Among NJ voters 65 and older, whites are the most likely to be “very confident” that they’ll be able to maintain a comfortable retirement, with 41 percent saying so. In contrast, only 26 percent Black respondents, 24 percent of Hispanic/Latino/a respondents, and 11 percent of Asian respondents say the same.

The survey also included a short form of the Perceived Stress Scale, a widely used scale that uses a series of four questions to measure respondents’ stress levels. While most New Jersey voters 50 and over report low or moderate levels of stress, 25 percent are in an elevated category, and 8 percent report high levels of stress. In general, older respondents – those 75 and over – report the highest levels of stress, with 42 percent at the elevated or high levels, compared with 31 percent of those 50 to 64, even as national data shows that stress levels that became elevated during the pandemic have largely returned to baseline levels. White respondents over 50 also report higher levels of stress than Black or Asian voters. Interestingly, retired individuals are more stressed than those who are still working: 32 percent of employed people 50 and over in New Jersey report elevated or high levels of stress, compared 39 percent of those who are currently retired.

“We all hope that retirement is going to be relaxing, but that’s just not the case for many older people,” said Cassino. “Money problems, especially, can leave people more worried after they leave the workplace than they ever were in it.”

 

About AARP New Jersey

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. AARP New Jersey educates and advocates on behalf of those 50 and older on issues that are important to them, their families and to all Garden State residents. The organization works to strengthen New Jersey communities with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/nj or follow @AARPNJ on social media.

 

Methodology

The survey was conducted between September 27 and October 3, 2021, using a certified list of registered voters ages 50 years and older in New Jersey. Respondents were randomly chosen from the list, and contacted via live caller telephone interviews, resulting in a main sample of 802 respondents. 486 of the interviews were carried out via landline telephones, with the remainder (319) going to cellular phones.

In addition to the main sample, oversamples were conducted of African-American or Black respondents (101), Asian-American respondents (101) and Hispanic or Latino/a respondents (105). These respondents, too, were drawn from registered voters lists, and were contacted via SMS, and completed the survey via a text to web interface. Respondents in the Asian-American oversample were given the option of completing the survey in Mandarin, and respondents in the Hispanic or Latino/a were given the option to complete it in Spanish, though most completed the survey in English. 38 respondents in the Hispanic or Latino/a oversample completed the survey in Spanish, and 31 respondents in the Asian-American oversample completed it in Mandarin.

These oversamples allow for more accurate comparisons between this and other groups, as well as the calculation of subgroup characteristics that would not be possible in a simple probability sample. Such oversamples necessarily require additional weighting in order to calculate population level values, but the weights used for this are not included in the calculation of design effects, as they do not indicate a divergence between the sample and the population.

The data were weighted to be representative of the population of registered voters 50 and older in New Jersey. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, calculated design effects are approximately 1.28.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 1109 registered voters in New Jersey is +/-2.9 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-3.7 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, differences in translated forms, or context effects. While such errors are known to exist, they are often unquantifiable within a particular survey, and all efforts, such as randomization and extensive pre-testing of items, have been used to minimize them.

 

 

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

1109 Registered Voters in New Jersey, ages 50 and over

Figures do not included respondents who declined to answer the demographic item in question. Figures are weighted to overall state characteristics, and so do not reflect oversamples included in the study.

 

Man                             46%                 N = 466

Woman                             53%                 N = 533

Some Other Way 1%                  N = 4

 

50-59   36%           N = 400

60-64   22%                 N = 247

65-74   24%                 N = 265

75+    17%                 N = 192

 

Democrat (with leaners)             56%                 N = 529

Independent                              12%                 N = 111

Republican (with leaners)         32%                 N = 299

 

White                                 70%           N = 566

Black                                        15%           N = 123

Hispanic/Latino/a                           7%           N = 58

Asian    3%           N = 20

Other/Multi-racial                          1%           N = 7

 

HS or Less                          20%           N = 200

Some College/Vocational             27%           N = 258

College degree or more               53%           N = 306

 

 

Region Classifications

Northwest: Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren Counties
Northeast: Bergen and Passaic Counties
Urban Core: Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, and Union Counties
South: Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties
Coast: Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties

Question Wording and Order

Items on Prescription Drugs released 10/6, Items on Governor’s Race release 10/12

RS1. Are you currently employed, or are you retired, a homemaker, or something else?

  1. Employed
  2. Retired
  3. Homemaker
  4. Something Else: [Specify and record]
  5. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

RS2. [If Working in RS1]: Are you currently working full-time or part-time?

  1. Full-Time
  2. Part-Time
  3. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

RS3. If it were up to you, what would you be doing these days? Would you be…

  1. Working Full Time
  2. Working Part Time
  3. Retired, a homemaker, or otherwise not working outside the home
  4. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

RS4. [If Working in RS1, NOT Retired in RS3]: How confident are you that you will have saved enough money to retire when you want to?

  1. Very Confident
  2. Somewhat Confident
  3. Not Very Confident
  4. Not at all Confident
  5. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

RS5. [If Retired in RS1]: How confident are you that you have enough savings and other retirement income to maintain a comfortable retirement?

  1. Very Confident
  2. Somewhat Confident
  3. Not Very Confident
  4. Not at all Confident
  5. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

RS6. [If Working in RS1, Retired in RS3]: Do you think that you’ll be able to retire in the next few years?

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Not Sure [Vol]
  4. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

RS7. [Rotate Order of Arguments] While there has been recent progress, over the past few decades, the state has fallen behind on paying the full contribution needed for long term funding of pensions of public sector workers, like teachers and police officers. Some people say that it’s important to honor the commitments the state made to these workers; others say that the promised benefits were too generous, and we can’t afford to pay for them. Which comes closest to your view, even if neither is perfect?

  1. State should pay the full contributions
  2. State shouldn’t have to pay the full contributions
  3. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

Stress

Everyone has been under a lot of stress lately. We’re going to ask you a few questions about your thoughts and feelings over the last month. For each, just tell us how often you thought or felt a certain way in the last month.

  1. Never
  2. Almost Never
  3. Sometimes
  4. Fairly Often
  5. Very Often
  6. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

S1. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?

S2. In the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?

S3. In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?

S4. In the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?

Retirement Security

RS8. Recently, New Jersey enacted a program which would help workers in New Jersey save for retirement. Under this law, companies that don’t currently offer a retirement savings plan have to give employees information about the state plan and give employees the opportunity to participate if they want. Based on what you’ve heard, do you support or oppose such a program?

1. Support

2. Oppose

3. Not sure

4. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

 

RS9. [If Support in RS8, Rotate Order of Options] While the law creating this program was passed in 2019, the state has yet to put it into effect. Based on what you’ve heard, is it important that the state put the program into effect quickly, or is it okay for the state to continue to hold off?

1. Important to put into effect quickly

2. OK to hold off

3. Not sure

4. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

 

 

Further items to be released at a later date

 

Release Tables

Sex
Party ID
State should make full pension payments
Overall
Men
Women
Dem
Indp
Rep
Should Pay Full Amount
73
71
75
82
64
64
Shouldn’t Have to Pay
20
23
16
12
24
29
DK/Ref
7
6
9
6
12
7

 

Gov Vote
State should make full pension payments
Overall
Murphy
Ciattarelli
Should Pay Full Amount
73
82
63
Shouldn’t Have to Pay
20
13
30
DK/Ref
7
5
7

 

Gov Vote
Party ID
View of State Retirement Savings Plan
Overall
Murphy
Ciattarelli
Dem
Indp
Rep
Support
82
90
74
91
78
74
Oppose
6
2
12
2
6
11
Not Sure
11
7
14
6
13
15
DK/Ref
1
1
0
1
3
0

 

Only Supporters of Plan

Sex
Party ID
View of State Retirement Savings Plan
Overall
Men
Women
Dem
Indp
Rep
Important to do quickly
83
81
85
86
81
80
OK to hold off
9
11
8
7
8
13
Not Sure
7
7
7
7
10
6
DK/Ref
1
1
0
0
1
1

 

 

 

Age
Are you currently…
Overall
50-59
60-64
65-74
75+
Employed
38
72
53
19
7
Retired
48
9
28
69
88
Homemaker
4
5
6
9
2
Something Else
9
12
12
9
3
Job Training
1
2
1
0
0

 

Age
If it were up to you, would you be…
Overall
50-59
60-64
65-74
75+
Working Full Time
31
55
41
14
11
Working Part-Time
22
21
19
25
21
Retired, Homemaker, not working
45
23
37
58
66
Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]
2
1
3
3
2

 

Only those currently working

Age
How confident that you will have saved enough money to retire?
Overall
50-59
60-64
65-74
75+
Very Confident
33
30
34
34
67
Somewhat Confident
39
41
38
38
22
Not Very Confident
14
13
16
21
11
Not at All Confident
13
15
11
7
0
Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]
1
1
1
0
0

 

Only those not currently working

Age
How confident that you have  enough to maintain a comfortable retirement?
Overall
50-59
60-64
65-74
75+
Very Confident
38
17
37
36
42
Somewhat Confident
40
53
47
39
39
Not Very Confident
11
10
10
13
8
Not at All Confident
8
13
4
9
8
Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]
3
7
2
3
3

 

Only those not currently working

Race/Ethnicity (65+)
How confident that you have enough to maintain a comfortable retirement?
Overall
White
Black
Asian
Hisp/Lat
Very Confident
38
41
26
11
24
Somewhat Confident
40
37
49
44
61
Not Very Confident
11
11
15
32
7
Not at All Confident
8
8
10
13
7
Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]
3
3
0
0
1

 

Only those not currently working

Income (65+)
How confident that you have enough to maintain a comfortable retirement?
Overall
50K or less
50-100K
100-200K
200K+
Very Confident
38
26
46
60
80
Somewhat Confident
40
31
41
26
20
Not Very Confident
11
17
7
12
0
Not at All Confident
8
23
6
0
0
Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]
3
3
0
2
0

 

Age
Perceived Stress Score
Overall
50-59
60-64
65-74
75+
Low
14
17
15
11
13
Moderate
51
52
54
53
45
Elevated
27
25
26
27
30
High
8
6
5
9
12

 

Race/Ethnicity
Perceived Stress Score
Overall
White
Black
Asian
Hisp/Lat
Low
14
13
19
19
13
Moderate
51
51
56
48
52
Elevated
27
27
21
30
29
High
8
9
4
3
6

 

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