A study of the economic and demographic variables in 250 of the nation's largest counties finds that residents in more than half of them are not well prepared for retirement.

The analysis was designed to draw attention to the lack of retirement preparedness nationwide and the need for individuals and governments to take action.

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"This study should serve as a wake-up call, brining long overdue attention to the fact that Americans need help in making their retirement savings last a lifetime," said Shannon Hunt, executive director of Americans for Secure Retirement, which commissioned the study.

She added: "Policy makers should use the findings of this study to galvanize support around responsible retirement policies that can help secure Americans guaranteed lifelong retirement income."

Americans for Secure Retirement is a coalition of alliances and associations based in Washington, D.C., that supports the use of annuities and other investment products that could help workers finance their retirements. Annuities are contracts sold by insurance companies that are designed to provide payments to the holder at specified intervals, usually every month.

The study was conducted by the Orzechowski & Walter consulting firm, which is based in Arlington, Va.

The analysts looked at 30 different economic and demographic variables, including the cost of living, home ownership data, age of the population, and access to pension funds.

It found that people in 132 counties "face a high risk of not having enough income in retirement to allow them to maintain their standard of living."

The six counties where Americans were in the greatest difficulty were all in Florida, the study found. It listed the counties as Lee, Marion, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota and Volusia.

The areas where people appeared to be the best prepared for retirement were Collin County in Texas, Fairfax and Prince William counties in Virginia, Lake County in Illinois, and Somerset County in New Jersey.

Details for all 250 counties surveyed was posted Thursday on the coalition's Web site, http://www.paycheckforlife.org.

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