A higher percentage of workers are employed by companies that offer retirement plans and a higher percentage of those workers are participating in the plans since the end of the recession, according to a new report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).
In 2012, 61 percent of all workers age 16 or older worked for an employer or union that sponsored a pension or retirement plan for its employees. This is up from 59 percent in 2009. In addition, workers participating in those plans increased to 46 percent in 2012, up slightly from 45 percent in 2009.
For employees with an employer-sponsored plan, 401(k)-type plans were considered the primary plan by 78 percent of workers. Pension plans were the primary plan for 21 percent of workers, according to the EBRI report.
The report noted that while the worker participation rates in salary reduction plans such as 401(k)s has been going up, the average employee contribution to those plans dropped to 6.7 percent of salary in 2012 from 7.4 percent 2009. This is partially driven by the growth of automatic enrollment in 401(k) plans, which tend to bring in more first-time, lower-income participants but often at lower contribution rates, according to EBRI.
The study also found that the percentage of workers who were entitled to some pension benefit or lump-sum distribution if they left their job, know as vesting rate, stood at 43 percent in 2012. This is up from 24 percent in 1979. According to the Washington, D.C.-based research institute, this increase is largely due to the increased number of workers participating in defined contribution retirement plans, where employee contributions are immediately vested, and the faster vesting requirements in private-sector pension plans established since 1979.
The data in the report is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) on retirement plan participation, covering Dec. 2011 to March 2012.