FAQs About Benefits—Retirement Issues

What portion of workers are accruing benefits in an employment-based retirement plan?

About half of adults working full-time are in an employment-based retirement plan. Coverage expanded steadily for several decades after 1940, when only 15% of working adults had such coverage. However, retirement plan coverage peaked in 1980 and has declined modestly since.


Chart Data


Chart Data


Chart Data

Bureau of Labor Statistics data from late 2003 show that 49% of all workers and 58% of full-time workers are in a retirement plan. The numbers are significantly higher among public-sector employees. Those with the following attributes are most likely to be covered by an employment-based retirement plan:

Type of WorkerRetirement Plan
Participation Rate
White collar 59%
Union 83%
Hourly wage exceeds $15 70%
Firm employs at least 100 65%

See also October 2003 Essue Brief - Employment-Based Retirement and Pension Plan Participation: Declining Levels and Geographic Differences


General Overview of Benefits
Retirement Issues
Health Spending and Insurance Issues
Other Benefit Issues