News You Can Use: Retirement plan participation rose strongly in 2007

(Employee Benefit News: Used with permission 10-16-08)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

News You Can Use: Retirement plan participation rose strongly in 2007

Despite the doom and gloom news dominating headlines today, worker’s participation in employer-based retirement programs grew steadily in 2007, up for the first time since 1998. Data released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) states that 41.5% of all workers participate in employer sponsored plans, while the percentage of full-time and full-year salaried earners hovers at 55.5%.

The EBRI study includes these points about retirement plan participation:

· Age: Participation increases with age (63.9 percent for wage and salary workers ages 55–64, compared with 28.0 percent for those ages 21–24).

· Gender: Among all workers, men had a higher participation level than women, but among full-time, full-year workers, women had a higher percentage participating than men (57.0 percent for women, compared with 54.0 percent for men). Female workers’ lower probability of participation in the aggregate results from their overall lower earnings and lower rates of full-time work in comparison with males.

· Race: Hispanic wage and salary workers were significantly less likely than both white and black workers to participate in a retirement plan. The gap between the percentages of black and white plan participants narrows when compared across earnings levels.

· Geography: Wage and salary workers in the South, West, and Southwest had the lowest participation levels in 2007.

· Other factors: Higher-educated, higher-income, and married workers are more likely to participate in a plan than their counterparts.

By McLean at 2:00 PM