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March 17, 2009
Few Employers Drop 401(k) Match

The vast majority of employers have made no changes in their matching contribution to 401(k) plans, and only small fraction of employers have eliminated the match, according to a survey by WorldatWork.

Seventy-four percent of respondents reported no change in the employer matching contribution, and only three percent reported eliminating the match. Fifteen percent have either increased or are considering increasing the employer match. Eight percent have either decreased or are considering decreasing the 401(k) match.

The survey found that more than nine out of ten U.S. companies offer a 401(k) plan to employees. Ninety-four percent of companies provided some type of employer match to the employee’s individual 401(k) contribution.

“These statistics reflect that employers are clearly committed to providing retirement savings opportunities to their workers, even in tough economic times,” said Cara Welch, public policy director for WorldatWork.

The impact of the shrinking economy and the reality of financial stress felt by Americans can be seen in some employee behavior, WorldatWork notes. Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said that employees are increasingly taking loans from their retirement accounts.

“The real importance of these findings is that the 401(k) plan system is an integral part of our retirement system in this country,” said Lynn Dudley, senior vice president, policy, for the American Benefits Council. “Our study shows it remains both strong and popular.”

The survey found that the most common employer matching contribution is three to four percent of a participant's pay.

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