VanDerhei added, "Many people simply don't or won't take the first basic step to plan for a comfortable retirement."
Workers' confidence in having enough for retirement decreases as the average amount they think they will need to save increases. Americans 45 or older who aren't at all confident about having enough money to retire believe that the percentage of income they need to save each year is, on average, 43 percent, an unattainable number for most.
There are many calculators to help you find your number. EBRI and its American Savings Education Council have created a retirement planning calculator, "Ballpark E$timate," at www.choosetosave.org.
It's likely when you do a retirement calculation, you'll see a big number. And you may find you're not on track to hit it.
"We know people get frightened when they see the gap," said Mathew Greenwald of Greenwald & Associates, which conducted and co-sponsored the retirement survey.
But as scared or discouraged as people get, once they know their number they can set more realistic targets, VanDerhei said.
"Many people can make better decisions and have more control when they know," Greenwald said.
Look at these numbers from the survey:
-- 57 percent of workers reported that they had financial assets totaling less than $25,000, not including their primary residence.
-- Only 23 percent of retirees feel very confident that they had done a good job of preparing for retirement.
-- 16 percent of workers and 13 percent of retirees said their level of debt is a major problem.
-- Only 50 percent of workers and 52 percent of retirees indicated that they could definitely come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose within the next month.
Perhaps you're thinking your number might not need to be so large because you'll just work longer. In 1991, 19 percent of workers planned to retire before age 60 and another 31 percent between the ages of 60 and 64. But now, only 9 percent plan to retire before age 60, and only 14 percent plan to retire in the 60-64 range.