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Women see dimmer prospects than men on retirement, jobs in poll

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By Heidi Przybyla and Catherine Dodge
(c) 2010 Bloomberg News
Monday, October 18, 2010; 12:26 AM

Women voters, who are less confident they'll have enough money in retirement and say they'll have to work longer than many men expect to, are taking more steps to trim household budgets.

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A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Oct. 7-10 finds that 41 percent of female likely voters are either very or fairly confident they will have enough money in retirement, compared with 48 percent of male likely voters. Thirty-two percent of these women are confident they won't have to work beyond their target retirement age; 40 percent of men say the same.

Janice Woods Moorman, a 55-year-old retired bus driver from Roanoke, Virginia, who lost much of her retirement savings in the stock-market collapse of 2008, says she has cut back.

"I'm always looking for bargains," she says. "Financially, I can't do what I used to be able to do."

The poll reflects that women, who have been less affected by job cuts than men in the longest recession in seven decades, are more concerned about unemployment. Among women voters, 54 percent say unemployment is the biggest issue facing the U.S., compared with 43 percent of men.

Overall, unemployment stood at 9.6 percent in September, down from a 26-year high of 10.1 percent in October 2009.

From December 2007, the beginning of the recession, to June 2009, when it officially ended, men accounted for 66 percent of job losses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That gap has narrowed as hiring in sectors such as financial services has picked up: In September, the unemployment rate for women 20 and older was 8 percent and the rate for men was 9.8 percent.

The relatively more favorable employment picture for women in the recession may help explain why female voters in the poll are less critical than men about President Barack Obama's handling of the economy. Thirty-six percent of women say they expect their economic situation to improve, compared with 32 percent of men.

Female poll respondents were more likely than men to say the tough economy has forced them to make some changes in their household spending behavior. Greater percentages of women than men say they've changed where they shop to save money, put off a major needed purchase and made cuts in regular household expenses such as cable television, telephone and Internet service.

"We think more carefully about vacations and trips," says Jeri Neidhard, 49, a high school English teacher from Centerville, Ohio, who votes as an independent. Instead of traveling this summer, Neidhard says she saved money for some needed home renovations.

Male voters in the poll are more likely than women to be concerned about the budget deficit, and show greater interest in the Tea Party movement, which has made government spending the thrust of its campaign to oust incumbent members of Congress. Among women, 44 percent say the deficit is a manageable burden, compared with 34 percent of men.

The shortfall between spending and revenue was $1.29 trillion in the year that ended Sept. 30, down from $1.42 trillion the previous year, according to the Treasury. At 8.9 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, the 2010 deficit was the second biggest since 1945.

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