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August 25, 2006
401(k) Balances Rise Despite Economic Downturn

The average 401(k) balance rose from $67,785 in 1999 to $102,014 in 2005 among participants who maintained accounts for the entire period, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI).

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The median account balance among these consistent 401(k) participants more than doubled between 1999 and 2005 to $54,591.

"The data demonstrate the power of persistence and the impact it has on an individual's ability to accumulate sizeable gains in a 401(k account," says Sarah Holden, an ICI senior economist and co-author of the study.

The study also found that company stock as a percentage of 401(k) plan assets continued to fall in 2005, and recently hired participants are less likely to own employer stock and tend to keep less of their accounts in company stock.

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