“The Effect of the Current Population Survey Redesign on Retirement-Plan Participation Estimates,” and “Worker Opinions About Employee Benefits: Differences Among Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Generation X Have Implications for Plan Sponsors”

December 2015, Vol. 36, No. 12
Paperback, 28 pp.
PDF, 1,100 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2015

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Executive Summary

The Effect of the Current Population Survey Redesign on Retirement-Plan Participation Estimates



  • The Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) is one of the most-cited sources of income data for retirement-age Americans. The Census Bureau redesigned the income questions starting in 2014 in response to findings that this survey has misclassified and generally under-reported income (in particular, sources of retirement income).
  • While the redesign of the survey did capture more income, especially pension income, it also significantly lowered the survey’s estimates of retirement plan participation among those most likely to participate. Furthermore, these new CPS participation results trended downward in contrast to other surveys on retirement plan participation.
  • The unexplainable decreases in the participation level after the CPS redesign and the conflicting time series of the participation levels in CPS relative to other surveys raise doubts about the use of CPS data to assess future retirement plan coverage policies.

Worker Opinions About Employee Benefits: Differences Among Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Generation X Have Implications for Plan Sponsors



  • Millennials are less likely than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to report health insurance as the most important benefit they receive at work. Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers to report that they value life insurance and paid time off as the most important benefit.
  • Millennials are less likely than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to report that the benefits a potential employer offers are extremely important in their decision to accept or reject a job. Millennials are also more likely than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to be open to non-traditional ways of obtaining benefits.
  • Millennials are more likely than other workers to respond that they do not know about their benefits. Participation in various employee benefit programs is generally lower among Millennials than among Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.