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October 10, 2002
Fewer Workers Enrolling in Retirement Plans
One million fewer workers participated in retirement plans last year, according to a new study released by the Congressional Research Service.

As the sluggish economy led more private employers to scale back benefits, about 38.7 million people - or nearly 56 percent of full-time, private-sector workers between the ages 25 and 64 - participated in an employer-based retirement plan in 2001, the study found.

That was down from 39.7 million, or almost 58 percent, the previous year.

"It could be that some employers terminated plans because it was too expensive," Patrick Purcell, the study's author, told the Associated Press.

The AP reported that rates declined among all age groups and income levels.

Older workers and employees of larger companies remained more likely to be covered than younger workers and those employed by small businesses, the study found.

About 57 percent of white workers in the private sector were included in a company-sponsored plan in 2001, down from 59 percent the previous year. The rate for black workers remained relatively constant at about 50 percent.

The study was based on the research service's analysis of data from the Census Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Labor.


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