Two-thirds of middle-income Americansare saving less than 5% of their annual income for retirement with nearly a quarter saving nothing at all, according to research from LIMRA, an industry-funded research group.

The research looked at American workers earning $40,000 – $99,999.  More than eight in 10 (85%) are saving less than 10% of their income for retirement, the study found.

The group nearest retirement – those older than 55 – was the largest group of non-savers, with 26% reporting not saving anything at all for retirement.  Workers ages 18 – 34 were doing only marginally better, with one in four not setting anything aside from their paychecks for retirement.  Among workers 35 – 54, 20% were not saving for retirement. 

“These results, while not surprising, are very troubling,” Matthew Drinkwater, associate managing director, LIMRA's retirement research, said in a statement.  “Many Americans will live at least 20 years in retirement, and will need significant savings to ensure their financial security.”

Most Americans understand that they need to set aside more for retirement.  Eight in 10 said they needed to save more to be on track for retirement, with a quarter of Americans saying they need to save an additional 15 percent or more of their income annually.  Older workers (age 55 ) and women were most likely to think they need to save at least 15% more.

Drinkwater noted that while many Americans plan to delay retirement or not to retire at all, research has found that more than half of current retirees retired before they planned, often involuntarily. 

“It is important that Americans take the steps to prepare for every contingency while they are drawing an income,” Drinkwater said.

The findings are based on a nationally representative survey of 1,809 Americans who are either the primary financial decision-makers or share responsibility for making financial decisions. The survey was fielded in October 2012.