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February 21, 2007
Retirement Plan Participation Dips

The percentage of working heads of families who participated in an employment-based retirement plan dropped from 48.7 percent in 2001 to 46.1 in 2004, according to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

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At the same time, the percentage of heads of families working for an employer that sponsored a retirement plan was just over 61 percent in 2004, a number that has remained steady since 1992.

The study is based on the Survey of Consumer Finances, which is sponsored by the Federal Reserve in cooperation with the Department of the Treasury.

Other study findings:

  • 56 percent of heads of families who participated in an employment-based retirement plan had only a defined contribution (401(k)-type) plan.
  • 26 percent of heads of families had only a "traditional" defined benefit (pension) plan.
  • 18 percent had both a defined contribution and a defined benefit plan.
  • 58 percent of retirement plan participants working for employers with 500 or more employees were in a defined contribution plan in 1992. This number grew to 72 percent by 1995 and held steady at around 75 percent through 2004.
  • 37 percent of participants working for employers with 10­19 employees were in a defined contribution plan in 1992. This number jumped to 69 percent in 1995, rose to more than 90 percent in 1998, and remained at more than 80 percent from 2001­2004.
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