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August 07, 2007
Average 401(k) Account Grows by 8.7 Percent Annually

The average account balance among American workers who consistently held 401(k) accounts from 1999 through 2006 increased at an annual rate of 8.7 percent, according to a study released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI).

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Among this group, the median, or midpoint, account balance increased at an annual rate of 15.1 percent.

The average account balances rose to $121,202 at year-end 2006 from $67,760 at year-end 1999 among participants who maintained accounts for the entire period. Among the same group, the median account balance increased to $66,650 at year-end 2006 from $24,898 at year-end 1999.

"The average 401(k) participant had a good year in 2006 because the majority of 401(k) assets are invested in equities and the stock market did very well last year," says study co-author Jack VanDerhei, Temple University and EBRI Fellow. "But year-to-year comparisons can vary sharply, which is why it's far more meaningful to look at how participants' accounts have performed over time."

The study looked at participants who held a 401(k) account at the same employer at least from year-end 1999 through year-end 2006.

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