The Employee Benefit Research Institute, in a report released on its website Tuesday, found 57 percent of respondents to a survey indicated they had $25,000 or less in total savings and investments, a figure that excludes the equity they might have in their homes.
The Wall Street Journal reported those indicating they had such a small amount saved has grown. In 2008, 49 percent indicated they had $25,000 or less squirreled away.
More than a quarter of the respondents in the current survey -- 28 percent -- indicated they had no confidence in their ability to fund a comfortable retirement. In the 23-year history of the survey, that is the highest that has been, the Journal said.
The survey, which was conducted in January, included responses from 1,003 workers and 251 retirees.
"Workers are recognizing there is a crisis," said Alicia Munnell, director of the Boston College Center for Retirement Research.
In a separate survey sponsored by financial management firm Country Financial, only one third of respondents indicated they believed a middle-income family could save for a secure retirement.
The telephone survey that included 3,000 respondents was compiled by Rasmussen Reports.
Among its findings, 59 percent of respondents aged 50 to 64 indicated they started saving for retirement before age 40, while just 38 percent currently 65-years old or older started saving by age 40.
Overall, 34 percent indicated they agreed with the idea of having the government play a larger role in retirement funding. But Baby Boomers age 50 to 65 were far less likely to agree than those age 18 to 29, known as Generation Y.
Among Baby Boomers, 31 percent indicated the government should play a bigger role, while 49 percent of Gen Y respondents indicated government should play a larger role.
On one hand, having enough to retire is a matter of having a strong economy. But on the other, the Society of Actuaries in September says life expectancy increased by a year for men and 1.5 years for women from 2000 to 2012.
Men who turn 65 in 2013 are expected to live to age 85.5. Women turning 65 this year are expected to live to 87.7, the society said.
More years in retirement means workers have to save that much more to retire comfortably and employers are helping much less than in the past.
Using Department of Labor figures, the percentage of U.S. workers in the private sector covered by defined benefit plans has dropped from 28 percent in 1979 to 3 percent in 2011, the Employee Benefit Research Institute said.