October EBRI Issue Brief: Retirement Participation Steady in 2010

The portion of full-time, full-year workers age 2164 who participated in an employment-based retirement plan remained stable at 54.5 percent in 2010, showing no appreciable drop from 2009 despite the continuing weakness in the economy, according to a new report by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). This makes 2010 only the second year in the last six years without a decrease.

In general, workers in Midwestern, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeastern states had the highest levels of participation in employment-based retirement plans, while those in Southern and Western states had the lowest levels.

These findings are among many from the October EBRI Issue Brief, “Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2010,” online at www.ebri.org

As the EBRI report notes, measuring retirement plan participation levels in the United States is not a simple issue: Not all employers offer their workers a retirement plan; when a plan is offered, different types of workers participate at very different rates; and there are different work force definitions used when measuring participation.

     Among all workers: Among all 152.6 million Americans who worked in 2010 (including part-time workers), 75.0 million worked for an employer or union that sponsored a retirement plan and 60.7 million participated in the plan. This translates into a sponsorship rate (the percentage of workers working for an employer or union that sponsored a plan) of 49.2 percent and a participation level of 39.8 percent. Phrased another way, slightly less than half of all workers were offered a retirement plan, and roughly 40 percent participated in one.

     Among wage and salary workers age 21‒64: For this group, which has the strongest connection to the work force, the sponsorship rate increases to 61.6 percent and the portion participating increases to 54.5 percent. Phrased another way, slightly more than half of full-time, full-year workers are offered a retirement plan, and slightly more than half participate.

Public-sector workers are far more likely than their counterparts in the private sector to be in a retirement plan: Almost 72 percent (71.9 percent) of public-sector wage and salary workers age 21-64 participated in an employment-based retirement plan, compared with 39.5 percent of private-sector workers.

The press release is here.

The full report is here.

About ebriorg
President and CEO, EBRI

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