Publication Date

1-30-2009

Abstract

[Excerpt] The U.S. Census Bureau periodically collects information from individuals about their participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans. The most recent such survey was conducted from February through May of 2006. After extensive review and editing by the Census Bureau, the survey data files were released to the public in November 2008. This CRS report presents a summary of the data and a comparison of the results of the 2006 survey with similar surveys that the Census Bureau conducted in 1998 and 2003.

Our analysis of the data showed that:

• The percentage of private-sector wage-and- salary workers aged 21 and older whose employer sponsored a retirement plan increased from 63% in 1998 to 66% in 2003 and declined to 62% in 2006.

• The percentage of private-sector wage-and- salary workers aged 21 and older who participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans increased from 45% in 1998 to 49% in 2003 and declined to 45% in 2006.

• The percentage of private-sector wage-and- salary workers aged 21 and older whose employer sponsored a defined contribution plan, such as a §401(k) plan, rose from 54% in 1998 to 58% in 2003 and declined to 56% in 2006.

• The percentage of private-sector wage-and- salary workers aged 21 and older who participated in defined contribution plans increased from 37% in 1998 to 43% in 2003 and declined to 40% in 2006.

• Among workers whose employers offered a defined contribution plan, 71% participated in these plans in 2006, compared to 69% in 1998 and 74% in 2003.

In 2006, the median monthly employee salary deferral into defined contribution plans was $175, or $2,100 on an annual basis. This was equal to 14% of the 2006 maximum permissible deferral of $15,000. Only 8% of participants contributed $1,000 or more per month to a defined contribution plan in 2006. Fewer than 5% of plan participants made monthly contributions that on an annual basis were equal to the $15,000 maximum permissible salary deferral. Seventy-five percent of employees deferred less than $400 per month into defined contribution plans in 2006.

Among all private-sector wage-and-salary workers aged 21 and older who participated in DC plans in 2006, their mean account balance was $48,311 and their median balance was $25,000. Ten percent of plan participants reported ever having taken a plan loan. In 2006, the mean outstanding loan balance was $6,615 and the median loan balance was $3,000. Twenty-five percent of all loans had outstanding balances of less than $1,500, and 25% of loans had outstanding balances of more than $8,000. Five percent of loans had an outstanding balance of more than $30,000.

Comments

Suggested Citation:
Purcell, P. (2009). Retirement plan participation and contributions: Trends from 1998 to 2006. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.
http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/key_workplace/598

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