EBRI Issue Brief

Employment-Based Retirement Income Benefits: Analysis of the April 1993 Current Population Survey

Sep 1, 1994 36  pages


  • Among all civilian workers, 57 percent worked for an employer where a retirement plan was sponsored in 1993, the same percentage as in 1988. The participation rate rose from 43 percent in 1988 to 44 percent in 1993. The vesting rate was 38 percent in 1993 versus 34 percent in 1988. Therefore, downward trends of sponsorship and participation in the 1980s have bottomed out, if not actually reversed direction.
  • In 1993, 62.1 percent of all civilian nonagricultural wage and salary workers worked for a firm where an employment-based retirement plan was sponsored, 75.9 percent of these workers actually participated, and 85.5 percent of those participating were vested. Sponsorship, participation, and vesting tended to increase with annual hours, earnings, tenure, firm size, and worker age.
  • Among civilian nonagricultural wage and salary workers, 37 percent were with an employer who sponsored a salary reduction plan in 1993, compared with 26.9 percent in 1988. Among those offered such a plan, the percentage participating increased from 57.0 percent to 64.6 percent. In 1988, 49.1 percent of salary reduction participants reported the plan as being their primary retirement plan, while in 1993, 73.3 percent of participants reported the plan as primary.
  • Among workers with any pension participation in 1993, 9.2 percent contributed to an individual retirement account in 1992, compared with 6.3 percent of those not participating in an employment-based plan.
  • In 1993, 12.4 million persons reported ever receiving a lump-sum distribution from a retirement plan. The mean amount received was $10,795 (1993 dollars) and the median was $3,507.
  • Among lump-sum distribution recipients, 41.5 percent reported using at least some of the money for tax-qualified financial saving, and 19 percent used the entire amount for this purpose. The likelihood of using the distribution for tax-qualified saving increased with the size of the distribution and the age of the recipient at receipt and was more likely the more recent the year of receipt.