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Five Ways Employers Can Improve Their 401(k)s

USA, October 20, 2014

Today, nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (“TCRS”) released a new study and infographic identifying five ways employers can improve their 401(k)s.

As part of TCRS' 15th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, this study explores employers' views on the economy, their companies, and retirement benefits. It compares and contrasts employers' views with workers' perspectives.

"As the economy continues its prolonged recovery from the recession, our survey found upbeat news that many employers are hiring additional employees. Moreover, they recognize the value of offering retirement benefits," said Catherine Collinson, president of TCRS.

Seventy-two percent of employers have hired additional employees in the last 12 months (compared to only 16 percent that say they have implemented layoffs or downsizing). Among employers that offer a 401(k) or similar plan (e.g., SEP, SIMPLE), the vast majority (89 percent) believe their plans are important for their ability to attract and retain talent.

Retirement Benefits and Savings Are Increasing (Yet More Can Be Done)

Employers are increasingly offering 401(k) or similar plans to their employees. Between 2007 and 2014, the survey found that the percentage of employers offering a 401(k) or similar plan increased from 72 percent to 79 percent. The offering of a plan is highest among large companies of 500 or more employees (98 percent) and small non-micro companies of 100 to 499 employees (95 percent) and lowest among micro companies of 10 to 99 employees (73 percent).

During the recession and its aftereffects, many 401(k) plan sponsors suspended or eliminated their matching contributions. Plan sponsors that offer matching contributions dropped from 80 percent in 2007 to approximately 70 percent from 2009 to 2012. In 2014, the survey found that 77 percent of plan sponsors now offer a match, nearly returning to the 2007 level.

"Despite the tumultuous economy in recent years, 401(k) plan participants stayed on course with their savings," said Collinson. According to the worker survey, participation rates among workers who are offered a plan have increased from 77 percent in 2007 to 80 percent in 2014. Among plan participants, annual salary contribution rates have increased from seven percent (median) in 2007 to eight percent (median) in 2014, with a slight dip to six percent during the economic downturn.

Workers' total household retirement savings increased between 2007 and 2014. The 2014 estimated median household retirement savings is $63,000, a significant increase from 2007, when the estimated median was just $47,000. Notably, Baby Boomers have saved $127,000 (estimated median) in household retirement accounts compared to $75,000 in 2007. "For some workers, current levels of retirement savings may be adequate; for many others, they are not enough," said Collinson.

Five Ways Employers Can Improve Their 401(k)s

"401(k)s play a vital role in helping workers save and invest for retirement," said Collinson. "Until every American worker is on track to achieve a financially secure retirement, there will be opportunities for further innovation and refinements to our retirement system."

TCRS 401k infographic

For infographics, the full survey report and to find out the five ways in which employers, with assistance from their retirement plan advisors and providers, can improve their 401(k)s, visit www.transamericacenter.org.


About Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies®

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (TCRS) is a division of Transamerica Institute SM, a nonprofit, private foundation. The Transamerica Institute is funded by contributions from Transamerica Life Insurance Company and its affiliates and may receive funds from unaffiliated third parties. For more information please refer to www.transamericacenter.org and follow TCRS on Twitter at @TCRStudies.

Written by: TCRS